Proving that democracy is just fine in the internet era, a petition demanding that Donald Trump should be invited to make a state visit to the UK has passed 100,000 signatures – passing the threshold to be "considered" for a Parliamentary debate.
The petition was set up in response to a much more popular one demanding that Trump is not invited on an official state visit, which at the time of writing had 1.6 million signatures.
In the counter-petition, which passed the 100,000 mark earlier this afternoon, lead petitioner Alan Augustus Brown wrote:
Donald Trump should be invited to make an official State Visit because he is the leader of a free world and U.K. is a country that supports free speech and does not believe that people that appose [sic] our point of view should be gagged.
The anti-Trump petition did not demand he be gagged. Instead it merely suggested he not be invited to meet the Queen on the grounds it would cause Her Majesty "embarrassment".
The Queen has met all manner of unsavoury characters over the years, from barking mad Ugandan dictator (and one-time Royal Military Academy Sandhurst officer cadet) Idi Amin, murderous dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (himself murdered by the Romanian army when Communism collapsed in that country) and even Ronald Reagan.
By the time of writing, neither petition had received a written Parliamentary response, as must be given for all petitions that break the 10,000 signature barrier. Usually this amounts to "bugger off, peons" in so many words. Parliament had, however, decided to debate the anti-Trump petition in the House just as this story was filed.
The JSON data for the petition, publicly viewable on the Parliamentary petitions website, revealed that in among the 1.6 million signatures from Britons opposing Trump's state visit were 3,000 signatures from Germany, 6,700 from France – and three from the Solomon Islands. Only signatures from British citizens and UK residents are eligible to be counted towards its total, as the FAQ page explains. 110,000 of the pro-Trump signatures were from the UK.
In related news, chanteuse Lily Allen and football pundit Gary Lineker both appeared at a protest in London last night aimed at showing opposition to President Trump's policies, particularly his ban on nationals of seven Middle Eastern countries travelling to the US. The protesters gathered outside Parliament and not the US Embassy, which is down the road in Grosvenor Square. ®