Thousands of protesters took to streets across the UK to protest against US President Donald Trump’s immigration ban on people from seven Muslim majority countries and Prime Minister Theresa May’s refusal to withdraw invitation for his official state visit to the UK. The protesters chanted slogans of “Down with Trump” and “Shame on May” to protest May’s decision not to withdraw the invitation to Trump for a State Visit to the UK later this year.
In London, swarms of protesters gathered outside Downing Street last night with similar crowds in towns and cities across Britain, including Edinburgh, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Manchester, Brighton, Birmingham and Leeds.
Indian-origin shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, told the event in London: “It is in sadness and solidarity that we gather here this evening. I also hope, friends, that we stand here in solidarity with all the world’s women who the president has insulted and all the desperate refugees that he would spurn.”
UK’s shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, told the crowd she had come on behalf of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
She said: “Donald Trump has been president for only a few days and look at what he is doing. We need to resist the Islamophobia and scapegoating of Muslims, we have got to resist it whether it is in the United States or here in the UK.”
The protests came as an online petition seeking cancellation of Trump’s State Visit crossed the one million signature-mark to be considered for a debate in British Parliament.
By Monday more than 1.5 million people had signed the online petition calling for the state visit to be cancelled because Trump’s “well-documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him” from meeting the queen.
The British Prime Minister today refused to back down on inviting Trump for the state visit, which involves lavish pomp and ceremony, often with a stay at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.
“The US is a close ally of the UK, we work together across many areas of mutual interest and we have that special relationship between us,” May told in a press conference in Dublin.
“I have issued that invitation for a state visit to President Trump to the UK and that invitation stands,” she said.
She, however, said that “in relation to the policies that have been announced by the US, the UK takes a different approach.”
Meanwhile, British MPs today held an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the executive order, which affects nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“The general principle is that all British passport holders remain welcome to travel to the US,” UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson told the House of Commons.
He added: “We have received assurances from the US embassy that this executive order will make no difference to any British passport holder, irrespective of their country of birth or whether they hold another passport.
“This is not our policy, nor is it a measure that this government would consider. I have already made clear our anxiety about measures that discriminate on grounds of nationality in ways that are divisive and wrong.”
There were some fears that British citizens holding dual nationality of any of the seven countries on Trump’s list may be denied entry to the US.