Thousands protest as British MPs debate Trump visit

Thousands protest as British MPs debate Trump visit
Demonstrators gather outside parliament in London as British lawmakers agreed not to support an online petition to prevent Donald Trump's state visit to the UK.
2 min read
20 February, 2017
Demonstrators carried placards bearing slogans "No to Trump" and "Dump Trump" [AFP]
Thousands of protesters rallied outside Britain's parliament on Monday as lawmakers debated a petition to cancel a state visit by US President Donald Trump after it gained over 1.8 million signatures.

Demonstrators carried placards bearing slogans such as "No to Trump" and "Dump Trump" as they gathered in Parliament Square in the latest rally against Trump, who took office a month ago. 

One protester said everyone must stand up against Trump's policies.

"He's promoting racist policies, he's normalising racism and misogyny and Islamophobia," protester Benjamin Kari told AFP.

Another demonstrator said he believes Trump personified hate and bigotry. 

"It's about the rise of hate and extremism, which is personified by Trump. It's not just about him, but he represents what's happening in the world at the moment," protester Alison Dale told Reuters.

On Monday, the British government said it will not support the online petition which was launched to prevent the US president's state visit.

The government stressed that the invitation still stands, but parliament went ahead and debated the issue due to the popularity of the petition. 

During the debate, opposition Labour MP David Lammy said the government offered the state visit because it is "desperate" for a trade deal with the US.

"I think my children deserve better than that… I'm ashamed that it's come to this," he said. 

Fellow Labour lawmaker Paul Flynn said the invitation should be downgraded from the regal affair to a regular visit.

"There are great dangers in attempting to give him the best accolade we can give anyone," he said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May became the first foreign leader to meet Trump in the White House in January, when she invited him to the UK on a state visit to be hosted by Queen Elizabeth II later this year.

The invitation came hours ahead of Trump imposing tough entry restrictions on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries. 

While Trump was offered a state visit after just seven days in office, his predecessor Barack Obama had to wait 758 days before receiving the same invitation.

Bryan Richardson, a member of the Stand up to Racism group, said May "humiliated herself by rushing over to Washington to be the first leader to meet Donald Trump". 

A Stop Trump Coalition website named February 20 a "day of action" against the US president, listing events planned across Britain. 

Around 300 people gathered in the Scottish city of Glasgow waving sometimes comical banners aimed at Trump, one describing him as a "Feckin Plonker".

Agencies contributed to this report.