The U.K. government says it will not be cancelling a planned state visit by U.S. President Donald Trump later this year, despite more than 1.1 million people signing a petition demanding that any such invitation be withdrawn. Calls by British politicians for Prime Minister Theresa May to rescind the offer grew louder over the weekend, as the full impact of Trump’s immigration ban became clear.
Here’s what you need to know:
1 million signatures
The petition has gathered over 1 million signatures in the space of just two days, but Downing Street says it will not even consider withdrawing the invitation because it remains “substantially in the national interest.”
Any government petition that gathers over 100,000 signatures must be considered for debate in the U.K. parliament. The Commons is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to have such a debate, while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will give a statement in parliament on Monday about the travel ban.
The petition isn’t calling to ban Trump from visiting the U.K. but aims to stop him enjoying an official state visit – preventing an audience with the queen. The petition cites Trump’s “well-documented misogyny and vulgarity” as traits that should disqualify him from receiving this privilege.
Don’t let him in
A possible state visit has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum. Leader of the opposition Labour party Jeremy Corbyn has called on May to cancel the trip, accusing Trump of abusing “our shared values with his shameful Muslim ban.”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “She should be standing up for British people and British interests, not going over there and tickling his tummy.” Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said May’s weak response “shames us all,” adding that the ban is an “attack on Muslims everywhere.”
A weak response
May came under pressure to condemn the ban, which was signed hours after she finished her meeting with Trump on Friday. Initially she refused to do so when asked about it during a press conference in Turkey on Saturday, but a statement issued Sunday morning said that while Downing Street “did not agree” with the ban, it was a “a matter for the Government of the United States.”
May’s seemingly weak response to the controversial ban has not prevented some within her own party from coming out strongly against the policy.
Tory MP Sarah Wollaston said Westminster should not be “fawning over” Trump, whom she described as “a sickening piece of work.” Iraqi-born Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi revealed he and his wife could not visit their sons who are attending university in the U.S. as a result of the ban. David Gauke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the ban would help rather than hinder the rise of the Islamic State group.
“A massive success”
Despite widespread criticism, courts overturning parts of the ban, a partial backdown by the White House, and waves of angry protests at airports across the U.S., Trump’s aides have called the executive order a “massive success.”
Protests across the pond
Thousands of people are preparing to protest the ban in dozens of cities across the U.K. on Monday, with the largest demonstration taking place outside Downing Street in London. There will be multiple speakers at the event, including former Labour party leader Ed Miliband, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, activist Bianca Jagger, and singer Lily Allen.