LONDON -- During the three-hour debate here in Westminster Hall on whether to ban Donald Trump from the United Kingdom, many British lawmakers extended the hand of friendship.
Trump was invited to have a curry in the city of Bradford, where about a quarter of the population is Muslim, and go on a walkabout in the multi-ethnic area of Brixton, a neighborhood in south London. More than one politician invited him to come along for a visit to a mosque.
But British politicians were notably less courteous when searching for words to describe the Republican presidential front-runner, with lawmakers from across the political spectrum dishing up a dictionary’s worth of insulting names.
"An idiot," is how Gavin Newlands, a Scottish National Party politician, described Trump, despite his attempts to find more agreeable language.
“I have tried to find different, perhaps more parliamentary adjectives to describe him but none was clear enough. He is an idiot,” he said.
There were some very British insults as well. If Trump were to pop into one of the many "excellent" pubs in her constituency, the Conservative member Victoria Atkins said he would likely be called a "wazzock" -- British slang for an annoying person. (The Guardian explains that “wazzock” is a mild insult that can be “used on telly without frightening your gran.") She said that banning Trump would be a disproportionate response but also said his call last month to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the the United States was “bonkers.”
To be sure, the overall tone of the evening debate was civil and high-minded. Weighty issues were thoughtfully discussed amid the name-calling.
And plenty of name-calling there was. Although Britons are normally famous for their understatement, they didn’t appear to hold back during the debate, which was triggered after more than 575,000 people signed a petition on a parliamentary website calling to ban Trump from Britain.
Gavin Robinson, a Northern Irish member of Parliament who said that Trump should be allowed to visit Britain so that people could challenge his views, nonetheless branded him a “ridiculous xenophobe” and a "buffoon."
Keir Starmer, a Labour politician and former chief prosecutor, disagreed that Trump was a buffoon. “That is not buffoonery. That is absolutely repugnant,” he said.
Naz Shah, the Labour politician who invited Trump to join her for a curry, said he was a “demagogue who panders to people’s fears, rather than their strengths.”
Trump is “not only racist but homophobic and misogynistic,” said Rupa Huq, a Labour politician.
To Marcus Fysh, a Conservative politician who said that banning Trump would be counterproductive, he was “the orange prince of American self-publicity.”
Labour shadow minister Jack Dromey, one of the few members of Parliament who argued in favor of the ban -- Trump shouldn’t be allowed within a thousand miles of Britain, is how he put it -- said that Trump was a “fool” but that he wasn’t free to be a “dangerous fool in Britain.”
Labour member Tulip Siddiq, another lawmaker who supported the ban, said that Britain needed to prevent “a poisonous, corrosive man from entering our country.”
Not everyone was scornful. Philip Davies, a Conservative politician who didn’t go so far as to agree with Trump’s views on banning Muslims, praised him for being “straight-talking” and said that Britain needed more people who were less concerned about being politically correct.
It was advice that, arguably, wasn't needed in Westminster Hall on Monday night.
Griff Witte contributed to this report.