During a three-hour debate Monday, British MPs declined to ban Donald Trump from entering their country, choosing instead to launch a volley of insults at the Republican presidential candidate.
A minority backed a ban, but most shied away, insisting it would go against free speech, give Mr. Trump more publicity, or step beyond what was proper in terms of British involvement in American politics.
Plenty of those in the debate actually extended invitations to Trump, offering tours of their communities to challenge his views. Others chose to apply various labels to the Republican hopeful, including “crazy” and “offensive”.
The petition “Block Donald J Trump from UK entry” came into being in response to the politician’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
There was also anger when he claimed that in Britain “we have places in London and other places that are so radicalized that police are afraid for their own lives.”
At last count, over 576,000 Britons had signed the petition. In the United Kingdom, any petition garnering over 100,000 supporters must be considered for parliamentary debate.
While Monday’s exchange was never intended to culminate in a vote, it was an opportunity for views to be aired.
Indeed, Prime Minister David Cameron had already made his views known, describing Trump’s call for a Muslim ban as “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong”.
The leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, was likewise unimpressed: “I decided to invite Donald Trump on his visit to Britain to come with me to my constituency because he has problems with Mexicans and he has problems with Muslims,” he told the BBC Saturday.
"As you know, my wife is Mexican and my constituency is very, very multi-cultural so what I was going to do was go down to the mosque with him and let him talk to people there."
So the tone of Monday’s debate was set, with the Republican receiving a “flurry of invitations” to visit British constituencies. Indeed, The New Statesman suggested he might wish he had been banned.
"I want to see Donald Trump come to this country,” said Gavin Robinson, of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, during the debate. “I want him to get a sense of the fury and the frustration with his xenophobic remarks."
But there were those who felt the debate itself was a mistake, claiming that it made Britain look “totalitarian” and was born out of an obsession with political correctness.
“It’s in part because of political correctness that the straight talking of Donald Trump has proved so popular with the electorate out there,” said Philip Davies, a Conservative MP, adding that he had heard many people in his own constituency expressing similar views to Trump.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire spoke specifically to Britain’s relationship with the United States: "The U.S. remains our most important bilateral partner. It is in the UK's interests that we engage all presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican, even though we may disagree profoundly on important issues."
Yet there were some in Parliament who backed a ban.
"Donald Trump is a fool," Labour’s Jack Dromey said. "He is free to be a fool. He is not free to be a dangerous fool on our shores."
Fellow Labour MP Tulip Siddiq talked of Trump’s “poisonous” words and insisted they were inciting hate crime.
There were moments of laughter, though – banality, even. One MP, citing Britain’s famed roast beef, asked whether it might not be “better to roast Trump”.
And then there was the MP who fancied that his constituents might call Trump a “wazzock”, if he should ever wander into their neighborhood.
A wazzock, according to Urban Dictionary, is a term of mild insult originating in northern England.
But perhaps the final word should be given to Labour MP Naz Shah, who would invite Trump for a curry and a debate of his views:
“I stand here as a proud British Muslim woman. Donald Trump would like me banned from America. But in my Islam, what it teaches me, is that goodness is better than evil. If someone does bad, you do good in return. I will not allow the rhetoric of badness into my heart”.