The petition calling to “Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom” passed a million signatures at 9.54am today (30 January 2017). It gained a million supporters in less than 24 hours and is the 2nd quickest ever on the UK Government and Petitions website to hit gain a million supporters after the Brexit 2nd referendum petition, which eventually gained over 4 million backers.
A debate in parliament is triggered when any petition reaches 100,000 so a debate in Westminster Hall at least, is already guaranteed. It will be much more difficult for the government to dismiss this public plea however, compared with Brexit petition. There will be calls from opposition parties for the debate to be held in the House of Commons.
Firstly there’s been no referendum on the Trump visit. More significantly the government will have to weigh up the advantages of a state visit compared to the likelihood that many of those who have put their names to the petition will make a more public protest if Trump sets foot on British soil. The invitation was intended as a cornerstone of the special relationship. Given Trump’s apparent thin skin, it seems likely that a visit plagued by public protest would do demolish and deals with the US government than to shore them up.
The government is expected to confirm details of the parliamentary debate by tomorrow.