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A three hour debate in Parliament on whether to ban Donald Trump from visiting the UK is under way.
MPs are discussing a petition, attracting 574,000 signatures, urging a ban following the tycoon’s call for all Muslims to be denied entry to the US.
MPs will also debate a counter-petition, signed by 43,000 people, claiming such a ban would be illogical.
A spokeswoman for Mr Trump, who is running for US President, said it was an “absurd waste” of MPs’ time.
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The tycoon’s called for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the US in response to the shooting of 14 people in San Bernardino, California in December.
Mr Trump’s comments were criticised across the political spectrum in the US and Europe. He caused further anger by claiming that areas of London and other parts of the UK have become so radicalised that they have become no-go areas for the police.
Mr Trump is leading several opinion polls in the race to be the Republican candidate for President ahead of the first primary contest next month.
All public petitions which attract more than 100,000 signatures are considered for debate by the House of Commons petitions committee.
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The ‘Ban Trump’ petition states that the UK “has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech” and argues that the rules must be “fairly applied to the rich as well as poor”.
The counter-petition argues that foreign nationals should not be banned “for their opinions on domestic actions” and that a ban would risk damaging US-UK relations given the possibility of a Trump victory in November’s election.
Monday’s debate – starting at 16:30 GMT – was secured by Labour MP Paul Flynn. It will take place in Westminster Hall, the Commons’ secondary debating chamber, rather than the main Commons chamber itself. There will be no vote at the end of it.
The UK home secretary has the power to ban people from entering the country on grounds of national security, if they are thought likely to incite racial hatred or if they are deemed not to be “conducive to the public good”.
Conservative home secretary Theresa May has banned more than 200 people since 2010, according to figures published last year, although she has declined to comment on whether Mr Trump could be added to the list.
Prime Minister David Cameron and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn have both said they would not want to see Mr Trump excluded, arguing he should be encouraged to visit to see first-hand the UK’s diversity, cohesion and tolerance.
But former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, who has been involved in a war of words with Mr Trump in recent months, has suggested a ban “would do him good”.
Mr Trump, who owns the Turnberry golf course among other assets in Scotland, has threatened to cancel £700m of planned investment if he is blocked from returning to the UK.
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