British Parliament debates whether Donald Trump should be banned from entering country
Debate is nonbinding and has no vote, so will not directly force UK government to ban Trump
Trump has called for Muslims to be banned from entering U.S.
Donald Trump was in the spotlight in Britain’s Parliament, where lawmakers debated whether the Republican presidential front-runner should be barred from entering the country. The suggestion follows Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
It’s an unusual spectacle with unknown ramifications for the billionaire businessman’s political prospects back in the United States. But here are a few questions we can answer:
Has the UK ever held such a debate before?
Questions have certainly been raised in Parliament before about banning people from the UK, but a whole debate about one particular person is unprecedented in living memory.
Parliamentary power, however, isn’t required to impose the “persona non grata” label. Home Secretary Theresa May can ban anyone who’s been convicted of a crime and sent to prison or has broken immigration rules. If they are coming from outside the European Economic Area (the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), she can ban them if she considers their presence in the UK to be nonconducive to the public good.
In 2011, the U.S. pastor Terry Jones, who planned a Quran-burning protest, was barred on those grounds. Others who have been barred include Hamas MP Yunis Al-Astal, Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky and ex-Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Stephen “Don” Black.
Tulip Siddiq, a member of Parliament, seemed to be following those lines during the debate, calling Trump a “poisonous, corrosive man.”
“His words are not comical, his words are not funny, his words are poisonous, they risk inflaming tension between vulnerable communities,” she said.
Why is this debate happening? Will it matter?
A petition to ban Trump was started by Suzanne Kelly, a freelance journalist in Aberdeen, Scotland, where Trump owns a nearby golf course and is a divisive figure. She was angry over Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Kelly’s petition clearly hit a nerve, as it quickly gained enough signatures to be put forward as a topic of debate in Parliament. More than 575,000 people have signed it.