The British Parliament began debate Monday on the grave question of whether to ban future American president Donald Trump from the shores of their island nation.
The real-estate tycoon turned right-wing demagogue first drew Britain’s ire when he proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States last month, shortly after the ISIS-inspired attack in San Bernardino. Trump further antagonized our former colonial overlords by claiming that Muslim communities in London had become so radicalized, even the city’s police force was afraid to enter certain neighborhoods. British prime minister David Cameron called Trump’s comments “divisive, stupid and wrong.”
That inspired 570,000 Britons to sign an online petition demanding that Trump be banned from the United Kingdom, easily crossing the threshold of 100,000 signatures that a public petition needs to earn a debate in the House of Commons.
“The legislation exists to protect the public and the people of Britain from individuals such as this,” said lawmaker Tulip Siddiq, referring to the British Home secretary’s power to ban dangerous individuals from the country.
Siddiq argued that Trump’s defamation of Muslim communities was already inciting racial violence.
“I draw the line with freedom of speech when it actually imports violent ideology which is what I feel is happening,” she said. “If other people have been stopped from coming into the country the same rules need to apply to Donald Trump.”
But her fellow Labor Party member Paul Flynn argued that the ban risked only increasing Trump’s appeal in the United States.
“The great danger by attacking this one man is that we can fix on him a halo of victimhood,” Flynn said. “The line will go out ‘here are these foreigners interfering, telling us what to do.’”
Tory MP Andrew Murrison conceded that Trump was a “ridiculous” figure, but implored his colleagues not to discount the possibility that America could actually elect such a buffoon. Murrison expressed concern for the diplomatic implications of a ban that the United States would view as an “almighty snub.”
Even if the unthinkable happens and Donald Trump somehow fails to become the next American president, the ban could still have grave economic consequences for the United Kingdom. USA Today reports that Trump has threatened to withdraw his plan to invest more than $1 billion in Scottish enterprises should he be banned from the country.
While the British Parliament doesn’t actually have the unilateral authority to ban an American from the U.K., the British Home secretary Theresa May can and has. Conservative radio host Michael Savage was banned in 2009 for being an “agent of extremism and intolerance.” In 2011, Florida pastor and eminent Quran-burner Terry Jones also lost his U.K. privileges.