U.K. Petition to Halt President Trump State Visit Hits One Million

LONDON (Reuters) -

Over a million people in Britain have signed a petition calling for President Donald Trump’s planned state visit to be cancelled to avoid embarrassing Queen Elizabeth, in a grassroots backlash against his immigration policies.

The invitation to make a state visit, which will involve lavish displays of royal pageantry and a banquet hosted by the monarch, was conveyed by Prime Minister Theresa May when she visited Trump in Washington last week.

The petition was started before May’s trip, but gained traction after Trump issued an executive order barring Syrian refugees and suspending travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, sparking protests at home and abroad.

The petition against the state visit, which is on the British parliament’s website, passed the one million mark on Monday morning and the number of signatories was rising fast.

“Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the U.K. in his capacity as head of the U.S. Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen,” the petition says.

It was the second most popular petition ever on the parliamentary website, after one calling for a second referendum on membership of the European Union drew over 4 million signatures last year.

Once a petition passes 100,000 signatures, lawmakers must consider it for debate. Such debates are largely symbolic and rarely affect government policy, although one on this particular issue would potentially be embarrassing for May.

“Britain and the United States have a strong relationship and should continue working together,” a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday when asked about the petition.

“The invitation has been extended and it has been accepted. The U.K. and the U.S. have a very strong and close relationship and it is right that we continue to work together,” the spokesman said.

He also said Britain had been clear it disagreed with Trump’s travel restrictions.

A year ago, parliament debated a petition calling for Trump, then the Republican candidate, to be barred from the United Kingdom. It gathered close to 600,000 signatures before it was closed last June.

Some lawmakers from the governing Conservative Party and opposition Labour Party have criticized Trump’s immigration order. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the state visit should be put on hold.