UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday rejected a petition endorsed by nearly 2 million people against the state visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to Britain, saying her government “does not support” the view. The rejection comes after the petition ‘Prevent Donald Trump from making State Visit to the United Kingdom’ attracted 1.8 million signatures, ensuring a debate in Parliament on the matter on February 20.
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Any petition crossing a million signatures has to be considered for a debate in the House of Commons, but the British government has the right to take a stand on the issue in the lead up to that debate.
The petition – to be debated later this month – called for Trump to be allowed to visit the UK but not be granted an official state visit “because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen”. May’s official response said the government believed Trump should be extended the “full courtesy of a state visit”.
“We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangements are finalised. [Her Majesty’s] government recognises the strong views expressed by the many signatories of this petition, but does not support this petition,” it read. During her visit to the US on January 27, May invited Trump for a state visit later this year. The invitation was accepted. “This invitation reflects the importance of the relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom. At this stage, final dates have not yet been agreed for the State Visit,” the response said.
Trump’s visit, expected in August-September, has been at the centre of a lot of protests and controversy, including Commons Speaker John Bercow’s impartiality coming into question after he said Trump should be barred from addressing the British Parliament.
The petition states, “Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.”