Theresa May and her government have been left humiliated after the UK parliament voted unanimously to oppose the Muslim ban of US President Donald Trump. The May government now finds itself alongside UKIP and fascist groups like Britain First as the only voices in Britain backing the ban.
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi triggered an emergency debate in the House of Commons on 30 January. And the debate came at a critical moment. More than 1.5 million people have signed a petition demanding the cancellation of Trump’s state visit later this year. But resistance is happening offline too, with tens of thousands of people hitting the streets to protest the ban and Britain’s alliance with the US President.
The May government remains one of the few Western governments to fail to outright condemn the White House for the ban, saying only:
Immigration policy in the United States is a matter for the government of the United States, just the same as immigration policy for this country should be set by our government… But we do not agree with this kind of approach and it is not one we will be taking.
The Commons motion read:
That this House has considered the matter of the need for repeal of President Trump’s discriminatory, divisive and counterproductive ban on entry to the United States for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries and the indefinite ban placed on Syrian refugees.
While Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and several prominent members of the Conservative Party spoke out in favour of President Trump, there were fiery denunciations of the ban across the House.
Boris Johnson read a statement to the House, in which he stated:
Let me begin by saying this is not UK policy, it is not our policy, nor is it a measure that this government would consider. I’ve already made clear our anxiety about measures that discriminate on grounds of nationality in ways that are divisive and wrong.
But the statement fell short of condemning the ban outright, and attaching conditions to further transatlantic cooperation.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry tore into the decision to back Trump.
Thornberry was followed by veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner, who did not mince his words either.
The leaders of the opposition parties were united in their condemnation of the ban, and of the May government’s decision to align itself so closely with the US President.
In a staggering victory, the motion passed unanimously in the House of Commons. The move leaves Theresa May and her government isolated.
Theresa May and her government vs the will of parliament and the people
Parliament has voted unanimously to oppose the ban. And 1.5 million people have signed a petition calling for the cancellation of Trump’s planned state visit to the UK. Furthermore, with just a day’s notice, massive protests filled UK cities on Monday night in opposition to the ban.
Losing friends fast
Theresa May is not only isolated at home, but overseas too. Her colleagues in the international community were also strident in their opposition to the ban.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on refugees and migrants to come to Canada instead.
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada
German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded to the President directly, at a press conference on 30 January:
The necessary and decisive fight against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain belief ― in this case people of Muslim belief or people from a certain country
That way of thinking is against my interpretation of the basic tenets of international refugee support and cooperation.
French President Francois Hollande believes Europe needs to make a ‘firm’ collective response, saying:
I think we must respond… When he refuses the arrival of refugees, while Europe has done its duty, we have to respond.
The fight is on
There has been vigorous opposition to the Muslim travel ban within the United States too, with protesters filling airports in their thousands. And further opposition has come from the highest level of the legal system. US Attorney General Sally Yates refused to defend the ban, and told justice department lawyers to do the same.
I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.
At present I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.
President Trump fired her with immediate effect, replacing her with Dana Boente – who ordered compliance with the Executive Order. Boente will remain in post until Trump ally Jeff Sessions is confirmed as Attorney General.
Team Trump shows no sign of reversing the order, and the opposition inside and outside the US borders shows no sign of relenting either. Not just on this one order, but on the entire platform of the Trump presidency. It appears a fight has begun that will define our period in human history.
– Sign the petition to cancel Trump’s state visit.
– Donate to the ACLU, who are supporting refugees and immigrants caught up in the Muslim ban.
– Write to your MP expressing your view.
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