Article and photo: AP on News24
London - British lawmakers argued on Monday over whether Donald Trump should be excluded from the UK for his anti-Muslim remarks, with one legislator cautioning that a ban would give the Republican presidential hopeful a "halo of victimhood".
Parliament took up the topic after half a million people signed a petition call for Trump to be excluded after he called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US. Trump has also claimed that some areas of Britain are so radicalised that police fear for their lives.
Labour Party legislator Paul Flynn, who opened the debate, said "it would be a grave error" to ban Trump and allow him to appear a victim.
"I think we might already be in error in giving him far too much attention," said Flynn, who heads Parliament's Petitions Committee.
But another Labour legislator, Tulip Siddique, supported a ban.
"This is a man who is extremely high-profile ... a man who is interviewing for the most important job in the world," she said. "His words are not comical, his words are not funny. His words are poisonous."
More than 500 000 people have signed an online petition backing a ban on Trump, who owns a golf resort in Scotland, the land of his mother's birth.
Under British law, any petition supported by 100 000 people - who must provide and confirm an email address - is considered for parliamentary debate.
Monday's debate won't result in a vote.
Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned Trump's remarks as "divisive, stupid and wrong", but he and other senior officials have said they do not think Trump should be banned.
The government has the power to deny entry to people with criminal convictions or those whose presence is considered not "conducive to the public good". The power has been used against figures as diverse as boxer Mike Tyson, rapper Tyler the Creator, radical Muslim preachers and the late Christian fundamentalist Fred Phelps snr.
Few politicians have been banned, although Britain turned away anti-Islam Dutch legislator Geert Wilders at an airport in 2009. Wilders later sued and won the right to come to Britain.
Flynn said the public profile of Wilders' anti-Muslims views "was multiplied one hundredfold by the ban", and he did not want the same thing to happen with Trump.