British members of parliament on Monday lined up to pour scorn on a “racist and sexist” US president who they said should not be allowed to come to Britain for a state visit because of the risk it would embarrass the queen.
US President Donald Trump was compared to a “petulant child” and had his intelligence questioned by MPs during a three-hour debate triggered after more than 1.8 million people signed a petition urging British Prime Minister Theresa May to cancel her invitation.
So many politicians packed into Westminster Hall for the debate that they had to have their speeches limited to five minutes each.
Scottish National Party MP Alex Salmond said he was unsure over whether to be appalled by the morality of the invitation or astonished by its stupidity.
“As an example of fawning subservience, the prime minister holding hands [with Trump] would be difficult to match,” the former Scottish first minister said. “To do it in the name of shared values was stomach-churning. What exactly are the shared values that this house, this country would hope to have?”
Labour MP Paul Flynn said that only two US presidents had been accorded a state visit to Britain in more than half a century and it was “completely unprecedented” that Trump had been issued his within seven days of his presidency.
Flynn — who started the debate because he is on the petitions committee — said Trump would hardly be silenced by the invitation being rescinded, accusing him of a “ceaseless incontinence of free speech.”
Asked by Caroline Lucas, coleader of the Green Party, if Trump’s views on climate science should also be taken into account, Flynn responded that the president had shown “cavernous depths of scientific ignorance” on the issue.
They were speaking as thousands of demonstrators descended on Parliament Square to protest against the visit, chanting and waving placards reading: “No to racism; no to Trump.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott addressed the crowds, as did Lucas — who emerged from the debate to describe Trump as a “bully and a bigot.”
Inside the chamber, Flynn was criticized by Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg when he quoted the Observer’s Andrew Rawnsley, who has described the visit as the government “pimping out the queen for Donald Trump.”
Rees-Mogg responded that it was out of order “to refer to pimping out our sovereign,” adding that no one had complained when Emperor Hirohito came on a state visit to the UK, who he said was responsible for “the Rape of Nanking.”
Rees-Mogg was one of a number of Tories to defend the president and May for issuing a state visit.
MP Nigel Evans warned against sneering at the 61 million Americans who voted for Trump, describing them as “the forgotten people.”
MP Adam Holloway said that while Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries was absurd, it was “rather refreshing” to see a politician actually do what they had promised.
MP Edward Leigh told colleagues that he was going to make a “difficult argument” and then claimed that Trump’s racism and misogyny had been overstated.
“Which one of us has not made some ridiculous sexual comment at some point in his past,” he said, prompting an angry response from female MPs.
A number of female MPs stood up to complain of Trump’s sexism, with Labour MP Paula Sherriff quoting his infamous “grab her by the pussy” comment, which she said was sexual assault.
Labour MP Naz Shah said she had once urged Trump to come to her constituency to share a curry and meet a Muslim chief superintendent, headteacher, health workers and so on.
“But to do so now that he is president will only reinforce his actions, his divisive racist and sexist messages. This flies in the face of everything we stand for. We cannot support what he is doing,” she said.
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