British lawmakers on Monday engaged in a spirited debate about whether to ban Donald Trump from the U.K. over his remarks about Muslims, a bid unlikely to gain purchase but rather seen as an opportunity to weigh in on the divisive Republican presidential hopeful.
"His words are not comical, his words are not funny. His words are poisonous," said the Labour Party's Tulip Siddiq, who argued in support of a ban.
More than 500,000 people signed an online petition calling for Trump to be blocked for "hate speech" after he called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States in the wake of attacks by extremists.
Under British law any online petition backed by 100,000 people — who must provide and confirm an email address — is considered for parliamentary debate. A three-hour debate will not result in a binding vote.
Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned Trump's remarks as "divisive, stupid and wrong." But he and other senior officials have said they do not think Trump should be banned.
Labour's Paul Flynn said, "The great danger by attacking this one man is that we can fix on him a halo of victimhood. We give him the role of martyrdom, which can be seen to be an advantage among those that support him."
Added Conservative Edward Leigh, anti-ban: "We oppose Mr. Trump for demonizing his opponents. ... If we ban him from the country are we not in danger of doing the same?"
At the end of the day, the debate took place without any vote ever happening, so "Mr. Trump" can still travel to Old Blighty.
Many of the MP’s argued that although they strongly disagreed with Trump’s language and proposals, a ban could be counter productive.
The government has the power to deny entry to people with criminal convictions or those whose presence is considered not "conducive to the public good." The power has been used against figures as diverse as boxer Mike Tyson, rapper Tyler the Creator, radical Muslim preachers and the late Christian fundamentalist Fred Phelps Sr.
Few politicians have been banned, although Britain turned away anti-Islam Dutch legislator Geert Wilders at an airport in 2009. Wilders later sued and won the right to come to Britain.