British Parliament members (MPs) debated Monday whether Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump should be barred from entering the country over controversial comments he made about Muslims. While there was a near-universal condemnation of Trump’s remarks among the U.K. legislators, the debate was still divided between those who believed a ban would be an insult to free speech and those who thought his rhetoric could contribute to acts of violence, MSNBC reported.
“We should not build him up by our attacks,” BBC News quoted Labour MP Paul Flynn as saying. “The great danger by attacking this one man is that we can fix on him a halo of victimhood,” he said. “We give him the role of martyrdom, which can seem to be an advantage among those who support him.”
During the debate, various speakers called the billionaire businessman “the orange prince of self-publicity,” “racist,” “misogynistic,” “homophobic,” “a demagogue” and an “idiot.” Even those who opposed the ban condemned Trump, yet argued that its proponents are inadvertently helping him by “fueling the man’s publicity machine,” in the words of Conservative MP Victoria Atkins, the Washington Post reported. The debate did not produce a binding decision: The power to ban someone from the U.K. rests not with Parliament but with the home secretary.
The debate took place in the British Parliament’s Westminster Hall after an online petition calling for Trump to be banned from the country garnered more than 570,000 signatures, easily clearing the 100,000-signature threshold for it to be considered by Parliament’s petition committee, which passed it along to the full Parliament for debate. The petition was launched following Trump’s controversial call for the U.S. to implement a temporary travel ban on all Muslims.
“He is free to be a fool. He is not free to be a dangerous fool on our shores. I don’t think Donald Trump should be allowed within 1,000 miles of our shores,” MSNBC quoted Labour lawmaker Jack Dromey as saying.