More than 1.8 million people have signed a petition to prevent controversial US President Donald Trump from making an official state visit to the United Kingdom.
The petition was created in November on the United Kingdom's Government and Parliament website. In the span of two months, it only gained 372 signatures. But, with the announcement of Trump's ban on citizens of seven nations that have Muslim majorities from entering the Unites States, the number of petitioners has soared!
Graham Guest, the British lawyer who wrote the petition, had no specific issue in mind when he started it. "Maybe Trump's travel ban has angered people and they want him to know what it's like to be banned from a country," he noted about the spike in signatures.
"Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US 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 reads.
But what is the difference between an official state visit and Trump entering as head of a foreign government?
It mostly boils down to pomp and ceremony. A state visit is the most formal reception a Head of State can give to a foreign leader of equivalent rank and is considered the highest expression of bilateral ties. It usually consists of honor guards, a military salute and cultural presentations. Most importantly, the visiting Head of State or government will be accorded a state dinner hosted by the nation's Head of State, which, in this case, would be Queen Elizabeth II.
In a normal working visit, the Queen is not obligated to receive a foreign leader or to host dinner at her residence. There is less pomp and ceremony, and, usually, heads of government would immediately proceed to discuss agendas at hand. It is strictly a business trip.
Being denied a state visit may be a huge blow to Trump, who is known for his extravagance. But will the petition succeed? As a rule, any petition with 100,000 signatures must be considered for debate, and Parliament will debate this petition on February 20, 2017.