British MPs are set to hold a debate on whether to ban controversial US presidential hopeful Donald Trump from entering the UK after a parliamentary petition attracted more than 570,000 signatures. The billionaire tycoon received huge criticism last year after he proposed banning all Muslims from entering the US if he was elected president.
The three-hour debate is set to take place at Westminster Hall on 18 January at 4:30pm GMT. There will not be a vote at the end of the debate, but those taking part can press the government to take action as a result.
Trump received more condemnation in the UK by defending his comments by claiming there are areas in London where police officers do not go because they are "scared for their lives" due to radicalisation.
Following the comments, Suzanne Kelly created a petition calling for Trump to be blocked from entering the UK as the the country should "continue applying the 'unacceptable behaviour' criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful".
The online petition proved to be hugely popular and quickly achieved the 100,000 signature needed to trigger a parliamentary debate, eventually gaining more than 573,000. The three-hour debate on whether to ban Trump from entering the UK at Westminster Hall will be headed by Labour MP Paul Flynn.
Writing on his website, the MP for Newport West said: "I will seek to represent the anger of petitioners who are outraged by Donald Trump's views on Mexicans, Muslims, global warming and the use of guns. But I will question whether a ban would be possible or perhaps counter-productive in bestowing victimhood on Mr Trump that could advantage him in the opinion of Americans.
I will urge that we treat him with courtesy, inviting him here to show us where the UK 'no-go' areas are for police, introducing him to centres of racial harmony in Wales and England, discussing our 24 deaths from gunshots per year compared with 160 this year (2016) in the US. A visit to the site of recent unprecedented areas of flooding in England might be useful and educational for Mr Trump, the global warming denier."
While Theresa May has blocked more people from entering the UK than any other home secretary, the government has already said it is unlikely Trump will also be banned. David Cameron has already rejected calls to ban to the Republican candidate hopeful, but described his comments on Muslims as "divisive, stupid and wrong".
One MP who agrees with the suggestion is former SNP leader Alex Salmond, who said he would "probably ban 'The Donald' because it would do him some good". Salmond, who previously traded insults with the 69-year-old following his failure to block a wind farm from being built near to his Balmedie golf course, added: "He wants to ban all Muslims from the United States, I want to ban all Donald Trumps from Scotland."
Chair of the Committee, Helen Jones MP, said: "By scheduling a debate on these petitions, the Committee is not expressing a view on whether or not the Government should exclude Donald Trump from the UK. As with any decision to schedule a petition for debate, it simply means that the Committee has decided that the subject should be debated. A debate will allow a range of views to be expressed."
Correction: An earlier version of this article wrongly gave the name of the MP heading the debate as Jerome.