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UK government rejects petition to stop Trump’s state visit

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and US President Donald Trump meet in the Oval Office of the White House on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

The British government says an invitation for US President Donald Trump's state visit is still in place, despite an outpouring of public and political protest.

More than 1.8 million Britons have signed an online petition urging the government to withdraw the invitation that Prime Minister Theresa May extended to Trump while she was visiting Washington last month.

The petition, which is expected to be put to debate in Parliament, called for Trump to be allowed to enter the UK but not be granted an official state visit because of fears it would cause embarrassment to Queen Elizabeth.

In a statement sent to petition signatories, the Foreign Office said the government "recognized the strong views ... but does not support this petition."

It also said that the US president should be granted the “full courtesy” of a state visit to the UK and that preparations would continue.

“This invitation reflects the importance of the relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom. At this stage, final dates have not yet been agreed for the state visit.”

State visits by foreign leaders typically include an address to Parliament.

However, the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has said he would refuse permission for Trump to address the chamber, citing "opposition to racism and sexism."

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow (file photo)

British MPs will hold a non-binding debate on the petition Monday.

Officials are also seeking to limit Trump’s public exposure during the visit in order to reduce the opportunities for protest.

Thousands of people have already demonstrated against Trump’s state visit.

The campaign to halt the visit gained momentum after Trump signed his now-blocked executive order, closing the nation’s doors to citizens of seven Muslim countries.

A counter petition calling for the state visit to go ahead has attracted more than 309,000 signatures.



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