A petition calling for Donald Trump to be denied entry into Britain has passed 300,000 signatures. The petition, which was started on Tuesday, has reached this astronomical number of signatures in less than 24 hours, according to the Independent.
At a rally aboard the USS Yorktown on Pearl Harbor Day, Trump made his now-infamous comments about barring Muslims from entry into the United States. The comments drew instant and heated condemnation, with social media coming alive with outraged complaints and even infographics comparing Donald Trump to Hitler. Trump’s Republican colleagues joined in as well, labeling his comments “un-American” and “unhelpful”. Unusually, even the White House responded, claiming that Donald Trump had “disqualified” himself from the presidency through his comments and comparing him to a “carnival barker”.
None of these responses, however, have any basis in real-world consequences, unlike the petition that was started in Britain the day after Donald Trump made his remarks. While the citizens of countries around the world voiced their outrage and called on their governments to do something about Trump, British citizens have direct access to parliament by means of petition. On the UK Government and Parliament website, there is a page on which any UK citizen can start a petition to the government. Any petition which gains more than 10,000 signatures will get a direct response from the government, but if a petition garners more than 100,000 signatures, it will actually be debated in parliament and may end up being drafted as a private member’s bill and thereby become law.
In this case the petition, created by Suzanne Kelly, does not call for the drafting of a new law but requests that parliament approves a blanket denial of entry to the UK for Donald Trump. The petitioner argues that many individuals have already been banned from entering the UK on the grounds of “hate speech” and that this should also apply to Trump. The text of the petition points out that Donald Trump should receive equal treatment under UK law.
“If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the ‘unacceptable behaviour’ criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful.”
Many countries have similar mechanisms for banning entry to foreign nationals. Australia, for example, recently denied entry to Chris Brown on the grounds of his history of domestic abuse offences.
According to the British government, a date on which to debate the motion to ban Donald Trump from Britain will be announced tomorrow. If it passes, there would be serious ramifications should Donald Trump ever become President Trump. Relations with England are a very important part of U.S. diplomacy, and being unable to visit such a key ally as Britain would be considered a serious drawback for any U.S. president. As to the likelihood of Donald Trump actually being banned, it’s far from impossible. British Prime Minister David Cameron has already come out against Trump’s comments, telling BBC News that they are “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.” Fellow Tory (conservative) and Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson also condemned Trump’s proposal. In classic style, Johnson claimed that he always avoided certain parts of New York because of the “very real” possibility of meeting Donald Trump.
On top of this, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called Donald Trump’s statement “an attack on democratic values” and an “affront to common humanity.” This means that Trump is disliked by both sides of British politics and, more importantly, by both sides of the House of Commons, in which the proposal would be debated.
Some critics are calling the petition “a knee jerk reaction to a knee jerk reaction,” but it appears to have been better thought out than this. The petition is a direct attack on Donald Trump’s wallet, the purpose of the proposed ban being to cut the mogul off from his Scottish golf course development project. Whether or not this petition actually results in a ban, it does serve as a clear indication of the feeling of the British public.
At the time of writing, the petition to ban Donald Trump from Britain was at close to 320,000 signatures after a day. Another petition, demanding that the government save Britain from “Islamification” by stopping immigration, only reached 210,000 over a four-month period.
[Photy by Getty Images/Scott Olson]