Last night thousands of people across Britain, took to the streets to protest against the new US President’s executive order, banning people from 7 predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
After just over a week in office Trump barred citizens from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, since Friday 721 travellers trying to enter the US from these countries have been denied entry.
Protesters felt a strong opposition voice of solidarity, with like minded people in the States was needed, along with an expression of outrage at the lack of condemnation on the part of the British government.
I attended the protest in Birmingham, which organisers say saw 1,500 people gather around the Council Building on Victoria Square for 2 hours, despite freezing cold conditions.
A petition calling on the British government to cancel a State Visit to the UK by Donald Trump, has now reached over 1.7 million signatures in just a few days.
Demonstrations were also held in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, London and Oxford, with a combined, estimated 50,000 people taking part.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May has refused to back down over the issue, saying the invitation for Trump’s visit still stands, leading many to label her “Theresa the appeaser”.
On Monday May said she was “very happy” to extend the invitation to Trump on behalf of the Queen.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was called to the House of Commons yesterday after the petition gained ground. He delivered a statement to the Commons in which he seemed to down play Trump’s policy, saying it would make no difference to any British passport holders, adding that the ban was temporary.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper blasted him, saying his statement was “not good enough”, adding “for the sake of history have the guts to speak out”.
Meanwhile Green MP Caroline Lucas also weighed in, after Johnson claimed Theresa May was the first world leader to condemn the travel ban, a claim Lucas called “fake news”, as May took two days to come out and condemn the ban, saying it was not the approach she would take.
Today, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, said she thought the travel ban was divisive and said it would potentially be used by ISIS, as a propaganda tool.
Later in the day the White House seemed to soften its approach, with the Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying the executive order wasn’t a ban, despite the President himself calling it a ban, in a tweet, 24 hours earlier:
Some 872 refugees will also be allowed to enter the United States this week, after officials said stopping them would cause “undue hardship”.
The debate over this doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon, with more protests planned in the UK for this coming week, including one outside Waterstones in Birmingham on Saturday starting at 2pm.