The British Parliament on Monday debated a popular petition to ban Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump thought biker rally crowd would resemble ‘I Have a Dream’ speech Weld wins Libertarian nomination for VP Dems to Clinton: Ignore Trump on past scandals MORE from entering the United Kingdom.
The members participating in the debate roundly condemned Trump and his comments about Muslims, Mexicans and women, with multiple members describing the business mogul’s rhetoric as “buffoonery.”
But the majority seemed to side against the petition, which has received over 575,000 signatures, arguing that Trump is not a serious threat to the U.K.
Paul Scully, a member of the Conservative Party, noted that people have been barred from the country for hate speech and inciting violence, “but not for stupidity.”
“May I just say that naturally it is no surprise that I oppose this ban. I think it just gives Donald Trump publicity,” said Edward Leigh, another Conservative.
“This man may conceivably become president of our most important ally,” Leigh added.
Leigh also noted that the two countries have very different political climates. He said that even though he’s been described as an “extreme right-winger” he would not be considered conservative in the United States.
“But as it happens I am strongly in favor of gun control, I voted insistently against bombing Syria and invading Iraq, I’m strongly in favor of the [National Health Service], which I use exclusively, and I’m opposed to capital punishment. Would I survive in the Republican Party?”
There were also those who argued against the U.K. government interjecting itself in another country’s electoral politics.
“I believe it is for the American people to judge him, and I believe it is for the American people to hold him to account,” said another Conservative member, Thomas Tugendhat. “Now while I think this man is crazy, while I think this man has no valid points to make, I will not be the one to silence his voice.”
Proponents of the ban, on the other hand, characterized Trump as more dangerous than a mere buffoon.
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a Muslim member of the Scottish National Party, noted that the U.K. government has banned plenty of people for hateful rhetoric similar to that of Trump.
“He has of course a right to be wrong,” she said. “But his statements are dangerous and threaten our public safety and national security. We cannot have laws which are applied differently depending on people’s income, public profile, religion, or color. What does that say about us?”
Tulip Siddiq, a member of the Labour party who is also a Muslim, pushed back against the freedom of speech arguments, saying that Trump’s comments have already incited violent hate crimes. She described an incident in Boston where two brothers assaulted a homeless Hispanic man and told police that they were inspired by the GOP front-runner’s comments about immigration.
“I draw the line on freedom of speech when it actually imports violent ideology, which I feel is happening,” she said.
While the Parliament is required to address petitions that collect more than 100,000 signatures, only Home Secretary Theresa May has the power to actually ban someone from entering the country if their presence is determined to be "non-conducive to the public good."