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Remembering the time MPs debated banning Donald Trump from the UK

The whole world is currently trying to come to terms with the prospect of a President Trump but, naturally, thoughts in the UK are already turning to how exactly this will affect us specifically.

All those years spent delicately courting a ‘special relationship’ - a construct that arguably played a large part in our decision to go to war in Iraq alongside George Bush – and what is it worth now?

While Trump, in marked opposition to Barack Obama, stated before the June referendum that Britain would not suffer from leaving the EU – "I don’t want to say front or anything else – I would treat everybody fairly but it would not make any difference to me whether they were in the EU or not” – suggesting that he at least won’t judge us for that decision, there may well be something else that the thin-skinned businessman hasn’t forgotten.

In January this year, Parliament held a debate on whether to ban him from the UK.

It was spurred by an online petition (notoriously effective those) which called for a ban on him entering the UK following his comments on stopping Muslims entering the US, which attracted over 580,000 signatures, meaning that Parliament was honour bound to debate it.

And they didn’t hold back.

On 18 January, around 40 participants gathered in a room outside the main chamber and unleashed their thoughts on Trump, safe in the knowledge that there was surely no way that this man could ever become President. Right? Right?

Trump was described as “a ridiculous figure” by one, with Labour’s Paul Flynn remarking that, as much as he disagrees with him, banning Trump would give him a “halo of martyrdom.”

Conservative Paul Scully says that other bans have been put in place due to “incitement or hatred”. For Trump? “I’ve never heard of one for stupidity. I’m not sure we should be starting now.”

Gavin Robinson, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party, said that Trump should be invited to Britain, to see how wrong he is, saying he is “a ridiculous xenophobe. But someone we don’t need to promote any further.”

Tom Tugendhat, a Conservative: “While I think this man is crazy, I will not be the one to silence his voice.”

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a Scottish National Party member, says his comments are “buffoonery,” which should be met “not with a ban, but with the great British response of ridicule.”

Jack Dromey, Labour, supports a ban: “Donald Trump is free to be a fool. But he’s not free to be a dangerous fool in Britain.”

Other words used include “a demagogue,” “a joke” and – repeatedly - “an idiot”.

Scottish National Party member Anne McLaughlin says Trump is, “the son of a Scottish immigrant. And I apologise for that.”

Labour’s Keir Starmer? Trump’s views are “repugnant”.

Kwazi Kwarteng, Conservative, states, with remarkable foresight, “the answer to his ban is not to ban him.” Doing so would only give him more publicity, generating “headlines around the world… And then (if he won) we would be in the absurd situation of having banned the president of the United States.”

Naz Shah might make it onto Trump’s Christmas Card list, even though she is, y’know, a Muslim: she says the way to defeat Trump is to “challenge him with goodness.” She proposed inviting him to Bradford - “the curry capital of Britain.” Where she would serve him food and take him to the mosque.

Yeah, actually, we wouldn’t wait up on him taking you up on that.

Ultimately of course, the authority to ban someone from the country lies with the home secretary, not with Parliament, so no ban was put in place. That job was then filled by now-PM Theresa May, but is currently filled by Amber Rudd – would she dare? Probably not.

But the rest of those MPs who slagged The Donald off in public when they thought they were safe? You might want to sleep with one eye open guys, because he’s armed and dangerous now.