It’s likely to go down in history as the parliamentary session with most uses of the word “buffoon.”
Britain’s parliament debated Monday whether to bar GOP front-runner Donald Trump from entering the United Kingdom after a petition to that effect received a whopping 575,000 signatures.
Trump’s statements calling on a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. was met with derision by the British politicians, but few seemed willing to call for an outright ban.
“This is about buffoonery,” said conservative MP Alex Chalk, capturing the mood of the room, “and ultimately buffoonery should not be met with the blunt instrument of a ban, but with the classic British response of ridicule.”
Parliament is required to consider for debate any public petition that receives 100,000 signatures or more.
MPs near-universally condemned Trump’s comments, echoing Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments that the developer’s statements were “stupid and wrong.”
Trump was called a “demagogue,” a “ridiculous individual,” a “ridiculous xenophobe,” a “dangerous fool,” “bonkers,” “crazy,” and a “wazzock” – whatever that is – among other appellations, by various members who rose to speak.
Still, few legislators went so far as to endorse a ban.
Labour Party MP Paul Flynn, who led the debate, warned against placing a “halo of victimhood” upon Trump.
“Although I may not like it, and I can be absolutely sure I wouldn’t support it, it is no place of me or this House to criticise a man running for elected office in a foreign country,” said conservative MP Thomas Tugendhat, “I believe it is for the American people to judge him.”
The call to ban Trump received more signatures than any other listed on the site, and multiple British news outlets reported lines out the door of members of the public hoping to get in.
Interestingly, a related petition – to stop all immigration and close the UK’s borders until ISIS is defeated – was number two, with 457,000 signatures.
The debate won’t lead to a vote. Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May will make the final decision.
Britain has banned people for controversial statements before, including Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who infamously burned a copy of the Koran during a service in 2012.
“I’m not sure Trump is going to be terribly worried about this debate,” Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh said.