LONDON — Members of Parliament are to debate the issue of banning Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from the UK at Westminster Hall on Monday afternoon.
The three-hour session, which kicks off at 4:30 p.m. local time (11:30 a.m. ET), was prompted by a petition to ban him from the country as well as a counter petition saying he should be allowed in, after he made a series of controversial remarks.
The debate will be led by Paul Flynn MP, a member of the Petitions Committee. It will be on the motion: "That this House has considered e-petitions 114003 and 114907 relating to the exclusion of Donald Trump from the UK."
The petition is being streamed at parliamentlive.tv and a full debate pack can be read online.
There will not actually be a vote on whether Trump should be excluded from the UK. E-petition debates in Westminster Hall can't directly change the law or result in a vote to implement the request of the petition, Commons Select Committee notes say.
The aim instead is to discuss the issues raised by the petitioners, ask questions on the government's position or press the government to take action. A government minister will be present to answer questions raised.
"By scheduling a debate on these petitions, the Committee is not expressing a view on whether or not the Government should exclude Donald Trump from the UK ... A debate will allow a range of views to be expressed," Helen Jones MP, Chair of the Committee said.
The petition to ban Trump has been been signed by over 573,000 people, with a counter petition receiving over 42,000 signatures. Both will be considered. All petitions that receive over 100,000 signatures are considered for debate but not all reach this stage.
Suzanne Kelly, who started the petition after several divisive comments from Trump, told Mashable Saturday she had no further comment around the debate, instead pointing to a statement via Aberdeen Voice in which she asks David Gladwin, author of the counter petition, or any representative of The Trump Organisation, to debate her.
However, she said in December she was "delighted" that so many signed the petition, telling Mashable: "I'm starting to feel like the person who said the emperor's got no clothes on."
Her petition was initially signed by many people in the Aberdeen area of Scotland, a part of the country that has seen fierce opposition to Trump thanks to the controversial development of one of his golf courses in the region.
A number of UK politicians have waded in to the debate in recent months. Prime Minister David Cameron disagrees with a ban, saying that while Trump's comments were "stupid and wrong," he would "unite us all against him" if he came to the UK.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn echoed that sentiment Sunday, telling The Andrew Marr Show he thinks that Donald Trump has "weird and frankly off the wall views" but would like him to meet his Mexican wife and some of his constituents in a local mosque.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) January 17, 2016
Shadow defence minister Emily Thornberry has also said she'd like to show Trump round. "Frankly, I think that he needs educating, he has some very peculiar views about Britain. He has some very peculiar views about London," she said.
"I would love to show him around real London and show him how it is that we are an exceptional city and he clearly doesn't understand," she added.
Since the petition gathered steam, Trump has made several comments about the UK, saying that some parts of London are so radicalised the police don't go there.
The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem. Everybody is wise to what is happening, very sad! Be honest.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2015
Ex-SNP leader Alex Salmond, meanwhile, agrees with the motion to ban Trump, saying: "He wants to ban all Muslims from the U.S. I want to ban all Donald Trumps from Scotland."
Home Secretary Theresa May, who actually has the power to ban individuals from the country, wouldn't be drawn on whether Trump would be kept out.
"I think we all agree that the comments Donald Trump made in relation to Muslims were divisive, unhelpful and wrong," she said in December.
"In relation to the question of banning individuals from the UK, given the role I play in making those decisions, I don't comment on individual cases," she added. "The decision on whether to ban anyone from the UK is made by the home secretary on the basis of the evidence at the time."
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