- MPs debate petition on whether Trump should be given a UK state visit.
- Conservative MPs defend Trump from accusations of racism and sexism.
- Tories congratulate Trump for implementing travel ban.
- Opposition MPs say he should not be allowed to meet the Queen.
- Thousands of anti-Trump protesters rally outside Parliament.
LONDON — A series of Conservative MPs rallied to Donald Trump’s defence from accusations of racism and sexism as Parliament debated on Monday evening whether he should be allowed a state visit to the UK.
Trump has already been barred from speaking in the Houses of Parliament by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow following the US President’s travel ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries.
However, Conservative MP Adam Holloway said on Monday night that it was “refreshing” that Trump had implemented the travel ban.
“There is something quite refreshing about a politician actually doing what they said they would do before they were elected,” Holloway said, during a Westminster Hall debate on a petition calling for Trump’s visit to be cancelled.
Conservative MP Nigel Evans agreed.
“I certainly don’t like some of the things he has said in the past but I do respect the fact that he has stood on a platform which he is now delivering,” Evans said.
“He will go down in history as being roundly condemned for being the only politician to deliver on his promises.
“Now I know that’s a peculiar thing in the politics that we’re used to that politicians actually stand up for something and then deliver but the fact is he is.”
Evans, who last year sent out a Christmas card of himself and Trump, said that people who accused the President of racism were actually attacking the American people.
“When we condemn him for being racist — and I’ve seen no evidence of that, I have seen no evidence of him being racist — when they attack him in an unseemly way they are actually attacking the American people.”
MPs were debating two petitions on whether Trump should be allowed a state visit later this year. Almost two million people have signed a petition calling for the planned visit to be cancelled, with several hundred thousand signing the rival petition.
Sexism and racism
Labour MP Paula Sheriff said that Trump’s recorded comments about women meant he should not be welcome.
“The expression ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ describes a sexual assault and therefore suggests that President Trump should not be afforded a visit to our Queen,” she told MPs.
However, Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh disagreed that the comments were in any way were evidence of sexism.
“Let us look at some of his comments and the charge of misogyny,” Leigh said.
“Of course, what he was reported as saying in a private conversation was horrible and ridiculous — I hope none of us would make those comments — but which one of us has not made some ridiculous sexual comment at some time in our past?”
Labour MP Naz Shah told her fellow MPs that Trump’s actions had made British Muslims feel frightened.
“What we have seen in the past 31 days has in many ways been chilling, with the executive orders that have dominated Donald Trump’s first weeks in the White House being frightening,” she said.
“Many of us are asking where the slippery slope really leads. To take only one of the groups of people where he has sought to divide — those of the Muslim faith, not necessarily distinct to one country or another — his rhetoric has been so broad that I personally, as a Muslim, feel attacked and misrepresented. No doubt many of my constituents, who daily make a wonderful contribution to this country, feel the same.”
However, Leigh disagreed and insisted that the travel ban could not be described as racist.
“As regards the argument of racism, I do not believe there is any proof that the travel ban is racist,” he said.
“Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world and there is no question of a travel ban on Indonesia. All the travel ban countries are riven by civil war and the travel ban builds on work done by President Obama, so to accuse the new President of the United States of racism, misogyny and all the rest is overstating it.”
Labour MP Rushanara Ali accused the Conservative MPs of being “apologists” for Trump.
“It is deeply saddening and shameful that colleagues who are defending the state visit do not recognise the serious concerns expressed particularly by Muslims, but also by many other communities, about the dangers of the rhetoric of Donald Trump,” she sid.
“It is time that those colleagues spoke out against that kind of hostility, which is deeply divisive. It is time for them to address the issue, instead of making excuses and being apologists for his hatred.”
One Day Without Us
Thousands of protesters gathered in Parliament Square outside to lend their weight to calls for Trump’s visit to be cancelled.
Speakers at the rally, organised by the Stop Trump Coalition and the migrants’ rights group One Day Without Us described the battle against Trump as akin to the battle against fascism in the 20th century.
“The racists and the fascists have been defeated before and we’re going to defeat them all over again,” said journalist and Stop Trump organiser Owen Jones.
Other speakers linked the rise of Trump to Brexit.
“Donald Trump wants to put America first. Theresa May wants to put Britain first. We’re proud citizens of the world and want to put humanity first,” Green MP Caroline Lucas said.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell insisted that Labour would not allow the government to turn Britain “into a colony of the Trump regime.”
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