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Man who started anti-Trump petition says he did it 'to save the Queen from having to shake President's hand’

Exclusive: Graham Guest tells The Independent he thinks it would be 'incongruous' to see Trump alongside the Queen - but he might 'get on well with Prince Philip'

Charlotte England
Sunday 29 January 2017 17:13 GMT
Graham Guest says Prime Minister Theresa May was 'reasonably dignified' in her dealings with US President Donald Trump
Graham Guest says Prime Minister Theresa May was 'reasonably dignified' in her dealings with US President Donald Trump (Getty Images)

A man from Leeds who started a viral petition to have Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK cancelled says he did so because he did not want the Queen to have to shake the new President's hand.

Graham Guest, 42, told The Independent he set up the petition, which was signed more than 300,000 times in just a few hours, to deny Mr Trump the opportunity to “bask in the Queen’s reflective glory”.

Initially, Mr Guest said, he was not concerned about Mr Trump coming to the UK in his capacity as US President - he just did not want him to meet and embarrass the 90-year-old monarch, given his track record of “misogyny and vulgarity”.

The petition's ascent "through the roof", from just 40 signatures in its first eight weeks to over 300,000 in a few hours on Sunday, came as a big surprise, he said, explaining that the petition was originally nothing to do with Mr Trump’s immigration ban.

Mr Trump's announcement on Friday of strict travel restrictions on people from seven majority-Muslim countries “changes things slightly”, Mr Guest said.

“It’s added a new dimension to things and until that ban is lifted I don’t think he should come to the country at all in any capacity”.

But Mr Guest said his primary concern is still the “poor old Queen”.

“Obviously she’s well respected and I didn’t want him using photo opportunities from that [meeting] in his re-election campaign,” he told The Independent. “I mean, if he’s photographed stood next to the Queen it makes him look like a statesman, which of course he’s not.”

Mr Guest said there was not a specific thing Mr Trump had done that spurred him to start the petition, it was just the President's general demeanour.

“It just seemed a very incongruous thing for this man, with all of the things he’s said, to be with the Queen,” he explained, adding that he thought Mr Trump might find an affinity with another member of the royal household — “I mean maybe he’d get on well with Prince Philip.. who knows”.

Beyond his concern for the wellbeing of the elderly monarch, Mr Guest said he is a pragmatist and does not blame Theresa May for visiting the White House.

“I mean at the end of the day, he’s the President, he’s going to be President for the next four years, she’s [Ms May] got to deal with him,” he said.

He added: “I think she was reasonably dignified in the way she carried on.”

As the "richest, most powerful country in the world" dealings with America are impossible to avoid, he said. “We’ve just got to deal with it, we’re going to have to have some dealings with Donald Trump."

But meeting the Queen is a privilege the US President does not deserve.

"I just don’t think we should give him the icing on the cake," he said.

Once a petition gets above 10,000 signatures the Government is required to provide an official response. Petitions that reach over 100,000 signatures must be considered for a debate in Parliament.

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