A cross-party group of MPs has called on Theresa May to rescind an invitation for Donald Trump to attend a state visit to the UK later this year.
As thousands of people protested outside Westminster, MPs branded the US President “disgusting” and “immoral” as they criticised the Prime Minister for appearing to act in “desperation” by extending the offer to Mr Trump just seven days after he entered the White House.
The debate was triggered after a petition to block Mr Trump’s state visit reached almost two million signatories. A separate petition, defending the state visit, which attracted more than 300,000 signatures, also formed part of the debate.
Calling on the Government to reconsider its offer, Labour's Paul Flynn compared the US President's behaviour to a "petulant child", while fellow Labour MP Daniel Zeichner branded him “a disgusting and immoral man” who “represents the very opposite of the values we hold”.
Their views appeared to echo the protesters outside Parliament. Carrying colourful placards and banners, separate groups led rallying cries, including "Hey hey, hey ho; Trump and Brexit's got to go," and "No Trump, no Brexit; no racist EU exit."
Inside the house, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said Ms May was left looking “desperate and craven” while Labour’s Dawn Butler said the US had a “pretty nasty virus, and it’s important that virus doesn’t spread”.
Green MP Caroline Lucas attacked Mr Trump’s “effrontery to basic climate science” and the SNP’s Alex Salmond suggested there was “desperation for a trade deal” driving Ms May’s Government.
They clashed with several Conservative MPs who insisted Ms May was right to prioritise Britain’s national interest by fostering good relations with its historic ally.
Tory Nigel Evans said he had seen no evidence from the first four weeks of the Trump administration to suggest that the President was “racist”.
"When we stand up in this country and condemn him for being racist, and I have seen no evidence of that, I have seen no evidence of him being racist, we are actually attacking the American people,” he said.
Veteran Conservative MP Edward Leigh also defended Mr Trump, saying his unsuccessful travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries did not amount to racism.
“I don’t think there is any proof that this travel ban is racist,” he said.
“Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, there is no question of a travel ban on Indonesia.
“These countries are riddled by civil war, this travel ban builds on work done by [Barack] Obama.
“So to accuse the new President of the US of racism, misogyny and all the rest is overstated.”
Trump Inauguration protests around the World
Trump Inauguration protests around the World
Activists from Greenpeace display a message reading "Mr President, walls divide. Build Bridges!" along the Berlin wall in Berlin on January 20, 2017 to coincide with the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United State
An activist holds up a sign at the "We Stand United" rally on the eve of US President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration outside Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York on January 19, 2017 in New York
Protesters burn a U.S. flag and a mock flag with pictures of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump outside the U.S. embassy in metro Manila, Philippines
Filipino protestors hold placcards during a protest rally in front of the US embassy in Manila, Philippines, 20 January 2017. On the eve of President-elect Donald Trump's inaguration as the 45th president of the United States, Filipinos and Fil-Americans held a protest in front of the US embassy in Manila to denounce the incoming US president.
Hong Kong police officers and security guards look on as an anarchist protester belonging to the Disrupt J20 movement sits after using a heavy duty D-lock and motorcycle lock to chain himself to a railing at the entrance gate to the Consulate General of the United States of America in Hong Kong to protest the inauguration of United States President-elect Donald Trump, Hong Kong, China, 20 January 2017. Two activists were arrested and taken away by Hong Kong police during the demonstration.
A banner is unfurled on London's Tower Bridge, organised by Bridges Not Walls - a partnership between grassroots activists and campaigners working on a range of issues, formed in the wake of Donald Trump's election, which aims to build bridges to a world free from hatred and oppression.
Protesters chain themselves to an entry point prior at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, DC, U.S.
Bridges Not Walls banner dropped from Molenbeek bridge in Brussels, Belgium, 20 January 2017, in an Greenpeace action part of protests Wolrd protest in solidarity with people in the US, the day Donald Trump sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
A woman holds an anti-U.S. President-elect Donald Trump placard during a rally in Tokyo, Japan,
A Palestinian protester holds a placard during a demonstration against the construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and against US President-elect Donald Trump, on January 20, 2017, near the settlement of Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem
Banners on North Bridge in Edinburgh as part of the Bridges Not Walls protest against US President Donald Trump on the day of his inauguration
Russian artist Vasily Slonov (L) and his assistant carry a life-sized cutout, which is an artwork created by Slonov and titled "Siberian Inauguration", before its presentation on the occasion of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, in a street in Krasnoyarsk, Russia
A woman holds a banner during a march to thank outgoing President Barack Obama and reject US President-elect Donald Trump before his inauguration at a park in Tokyo, Japan, 20 January 2017.
Palestinian demonstrators protesting this week against a promise by Donald Trump to re-locate the US embassy to Jerusalem
Much of the debate centred on the timing of the offer, coming just a week after Mr Trump was inaugurated and during a hastily-arranged visit to Washington by Ms May.
Barack Obama only received an invitation after 758 days, while his predecessor, George W Bush, waited 978 days before he was offered a state visit.
Tory MP Crispin Blunt said he was not opposed to a state visit but said it should be delayed until 2020 – the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower.
However, Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said Mr Trump's state visit to the UK "should happen and will happen".
He told MPs in the Westminster Hall debate: "This is a special moment for the special relationship. The visit should happen, the visit will happen and when it does I trust the United Kingdom will extend a polite and generous welcome to president Donald Trump."
The debate over the US President’s impending trip took place against the backdrop of protests across the UK against the state visit.
The faint shouts of demonstrators could be heard inside Westminster Hall while outside in Parliament Square, thousands of protesters had gathered.
Organisers of the rally said they expected more than 20,000 people to take part.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, addressing the crowds, warned about the "dark shadow of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment" that were beginning to emerge.
She said: "We know the values that Trump represents. With Donald Trump, you don't have to look into a crystal ball, you can read the book.
"He was supported in his presidential campaign by white supremacists. And even in the first weeks of his presidency he has had a viscerally anti-immigrant line."
Calls for the state visit to be cancelled have been backed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who criticised the president's "cruel and shameful" policies.
But the Government has remained steadfast in its commitment to honour the invite.
In its official response to the petitions, it stressed ministers believed "the President of the United States should be extended the full courtesy of a state visit".