LONDON — A petition calling on Britain to cancel President Trump’s state visit surged past 1 million signatures Monday, making the appeal the country’s second-biggest grass-roots effort and pushing it onto the agenda of the British Parliament.
Amid the furor, Britain’s foreign secretary revealed that he secured a deal with the Trump administration to clear travel for any British passport holder even in cases of dual citizenship with one of the seven blacklisted nations.
Trump provoked a worldwide backlash after signing an executive order to temporarily prevent people from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the United States. It also stopped the U.S. refugee program for 120 days. Trump has insisted that the order is not about religion but an interim measure to enhance security vetting.
British Prime Minister Theresa May announced during a joint news conference with Trump on Friday — before the ban was ordered — that Trump had accepted an offer by Queen Elizabeth II for a state visit this year.
The petition to rescind the state visit began two months ago, but signatures began to pour in after the travel restrictions were announced.
The petition is the second-most-signed initiative on Parliament’s website. (The most-signed petition was for a debate to consider a second referendum on E.U. membership after voters in June backed leaving the bloc.)
Graham Guest, 42, of Leeds, said he launched the petition because he did not want Trump to embarrass the queen. Trump should not be allowed to “bask in the queen’s reflective glory,” he told the Independent newspaper.
The petition argues that Trump should be allowed into Britain but not receive a full state visit. “Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales,” it reads.
Lawmakers will decide on Tuesday if they will debate the petition. If a petition receives more than 100,000 signatures, then Parliament automatically considers it for debate.
When asked if the petition has any impact on the state visit, a spokesman for Downing Street said of Trump: “He has been invited and he has accepted.”
May has faced criticism from across the political spectrum for plans to roll out the red carpet for Trump.
Nobody does pomp and pageantry like the British, and it is on full display during state visits, which usually include a carriage procession and a lavish state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said that the state visit should not proceed while “a cruel and divisive policy which discriminates against citizens of the host nation is in place.”
“I hope President Trump immediately reconsiders his Muslim ban,” she added.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, has said that May should cancel the state visit and “stand up to Trump’s hate.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to hold the post, said the ban was counterproductive and could do more harm than good.
“It will play straight into the hands of the terrorists and extremists who seek to divide and harm our great nations,” he wrote in the Evening Standard newspaper. “I fear it will be used to act as a recruiting sergeant for so-called IS [Islamic State] and other like-minded groups.”
May has also come under fire for not condemning the ban as quickly or forcefully as other European leaders. After initially refusing to condemn the measure, May’s office released a statement saying that it “does not agree” with the approach. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, by contrast, said that she “is convinced that the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion.”
Demonstrations were held in cities across the United Kingdom on Monday evening, including in London outside of May’s Downing Street office.
In the House of Commons, Boris Johnson, Britain’s foreign secretary, called Trump’s measures “divisive and wrong.” But he also stressed that the Anglo-American relationship was of “vital importance.”
As evidence, he said Britain’s standing in Washington allowed a special access deal for any British passport holder regardless of a possible second nationality — a move that could anger Britain’s European Union partners.
Nadhim Zahawi, a Conservative member of Parliament who was born in Iraq, told the BBC he thought the ban was “demeaning” and “sad.” His twin sons are studying at Princeton University and he initially thought he would be blocked from entering the U.S. because he has dual citizenship in Iraq and Britain.
While many on the left have attacked May for appearing to cozy up to Trump — epitomized by a photograph showing the two leaders holding hands outside of the White House — others have argued that she is only doing her job and it would be foolish not to engage with the elected leader of the United States.