Donald Trump was branded a racist demagogue, a buffoon and a “wazzock” in the British parliament as MPs debated whether to ban the Republican presidential candidate from coming to the UK.
A series of MPs attacked Trump for his views on Muslims, women, disabled people, global warming and many other issues in the two-hour discussion, with some suggesting he was inflaming hate crime against minorities.
However, the majority of parliamentarians from both left and right dismissed the idea of banning the businessman and star of The Apprentice in the US, with one saying it would fuel his publicity machine and give him the “halo of victimhood”.
About 50 MPs out of 650 were present for the debate, which was triggered by a petition signed by more than half a million people. Any petition that attracts more than 100,000 signatories is considered by MPs to decide whether it is worthy of debate.
Trump drew international condemnation when he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”. He later claimed that in Britain “we have places in London and other places that are so radicalised that police are afraid for their own lives”.
Those most in favour of a ban were some members of the Scottish National party (SNP) – Trump owns golf courses in Scotland – while the Conservative and Labour leaderships opposed the idea.
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, SNP member for Ochil and South Perthshire, said Trump was racist and she felt so strongly in favour of a ban because his words about Muslims applied to her, her family and her friends.
Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, joined the calls for him to be banned, saying people had felt “we need to stop a poisonous, corrosive man from entering the country”.
She said Trump was a danger to public safety and her constituents were worried, as hate crimes had risen in line with the rise of such rhetoric.
“Hate crime is being inflamed and stoked by the words that Donald Trump is using,” she said. “I draw the line of freedom of speech when it actually invites violent ideology which is what I feel is happening…
“If legislation has been practised before and other people stopped from coming into the country, the same rules need to apply to Donald Trump, which is why I feel he should not have been given a visa to visit the multicultural country that we are so proud of.”
Another Labour MP who supported a ban was Jack Dromey, a shadow Home Office minister, who said Trump could push vulnerable young people who believe in the victimhood promoted by Islamic State (Isis) further into extremism.
Letting someone into the country who demonises Muslims would be “damaging, it would be dangerous, it would be deeply divisive,” he said.
“I don’t think Donald Trump should be let within 1,000 miles of our shores. It would embolden the English Defence League and fuel the flames of terrorism on the other hand.”
Other Labour and Tory MPs rejected the idea of a ban, saying it was counter-productive.
Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West, said she had sympathy with the petitioners but rejected the idea of a ban.
“I stand here as a proud British Muslim woman. Donald Trump would like me banned from America. But in my Islam, what it teaches me, is that goodness is better than evil. If someone does bad, you do good in return. I will not allow the rhetoric of badness into my heart,” she said.
Paul Flynn, a Labour MP, who opened the debate, said it would give Trump the “halo of victimhood”.
The “best plan was not to give him the accolade of martyrdom and we may already be in error in giving him far too much attention,” he said.
This was echoed by Tory MP Victoria Atkins, who said Trump’s views were idiotic and her constituents would call him a “wazzock” but people should be confident enough that his arguments would not win. Banning him would “fuel this man’s publicity machine”, she said.
In another intervention, the Conservative MP Andrew Murrison warned that parliament must not deliver an “almighty snub” to the US and highlighted the fact that the US might actually elect “this ridiculous man” to be their president.
Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said he had heard a large number of his constituents expressing the same views as Trump and questioned whether those supporting the motion would want them to be excluded as well.
Trump has threatened to pull £700m of investment in Scottish golf courses if he were to be slapped with a ban, but it appears highly unlikely the Home Office will take such a measure.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has responded to the controversy around Trump by inviting him to tour a north London mosque. Corbyn said it would be better to engage with Trump than exclude him from the country.
“I decided to invite Donald Trump on his visit to Britain to come with me to my constituency because he has problems with Mexicans and he has problems with Muslims,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.
“My wife is Mexican and my constituency is very, very multicultural, so what I was going to do was go down to the mosque with him and let him talk to people there.”
David Cameron also has said he does not support a ban, while condemning Trump’s comments about Muslims as “divisive, stupid and wrong”.
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