‘I am grateful, Sir David, to be called at this late stage of the debate. It has been interesting, with many sincerely held views. It is Martin Luther King day, and if he were here today, he would be surprised at some of the sugar-coated versions of American history on display. I am sorry to say that what Trump has proposed has been proposed many times in American legislation. The outright ban on people on the basis of race, colour or ethnicity has, regrettably, often happened in United States history. One need only look at the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was on the statute book for 61 years and banned Chinese labourers from entering the United States. The Immigration Act of 1924 similarly banned Arabs and Asians and was changed only in 1952. So Martin Luther King would be surprised at the—one might say “politically correct”, although I do not want to use that term—sanitised version of American history and politics that we have heard today.
In that light, Donald J. Tump’s objectionable and hateful views have a history in the American political arena. They are not unusual or something he dreamed up in his head; they come from a long line of nativist legislation. We may object to that, decry it and say it is terrible, evil and bad, but those are not grounds for banning a presidential candidate from coming here. He said in his speech in South Carolina that his ban would be temporary, and he might note that the ban under the Chinese Exclusion Act was not temporary but lasted for 60 years and that the ban on Asians and Arabs under the immigration Acts was not temporary, but lasted 30 years. I am afraid to say—I am sure Martin Luther King would agree with me—that American history is full of nativism. Donald Trump is part of a long tradition, but that does not mean we should ban him.
All the arguments against the ban are valid. No one has said this, but if the United Kingdom banned Donald J. Trump from coming into Britain, it would be the biggest boost we could give to his campaign in America in terms of publicity and the patriotism of the United States, in not wishing other countries to try to shape or determine the outcome of its elections. It would be a spectacular own goal.
I remember the Guardian attempt in 2004 to prevent George W. Bush from being re-elected in that campaign. I think a very misguided Guardian journalist—I mean no slur on that paper—had a letter-writing campaign to the people in Ohio. They had identified that Ohio was a key swing state and they got some of their readers to write to individual electors in that state, urging them not to vote for George W. Bush. Members of the House will not be surprised to learn that George W. Bush carried Ohio and was indeed re-elected as President of the United States. That campaign was often cited as a way in which foreigners—people trying to intervene in the election of another country—could get things completely wrong, and the same thing—’
‘It is generous of the hon. Gentleman to give way; I am grateful. Does he not see the difference in this discussion? We are not seeking at all to influence what happens in the American presidential candidate elections or elections to follow. We are talking about what we can do here. We are talking about asking the Home Secretary to be consistent in her approach—the approach that we know she has used in relation to 84 other preachers. We are asking that those same rules be applied to Donald Trump in this country. We are talking about the United Kingdom, not anywhere else.’
‘I fully appreciate the hon. Lady’s remarks. As far as she is concerned—in her own mind—that is the case, but I am asking her to consider how the people of America would interpret a ban. They do not have the luxury of having her lucidity and understanding how our conventions and debates work. The headline—’
‘I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way, because he makes my point for me. It is all very well to say, “Let Donald Trump come here and have the discussion with us.” He wishes to ban people such as me—and the lucidity to which the hon. Gentleman refers—from going to the United States of America to make the case for the Muslims of this country, who want to live in peace and harmony, who are not represented by Daesh. That is the point, and I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way and allowing me to make it.’
‘I fully appreciate the hon. Lady’s remark, but as other people have observed, the answer to Donald Trump’s ban is not to ban him. That does not make any sense to me, and I will explain why briefly. He is banning Muslims. In his own mind, he is saying that Muslims constitute a danger to the United States. That is what he thinks, and on those grounds he is banning them. We are doing the same thing if we ban him.
We are saying that Donald Trump represents a danger to the United Kingdom, and on that ground we are banning him from coming. The implied logic is exactly the same. The circumstances are different, but the logical thought is exactly the same.’
‘I thoroughly disagree with the hon. Gentleman when he says that this is exactly the same. It is not exactly the same: Donald Trump has said that he wants to ban all Muslims because of their religion. That is 1.6 billion people who he wants to ban, because of their religion. The reason why some Members are asking for him to be banned is the rhetoric, the sentiment and the values that he has expressed. That is different from banning someone because of their religion. I hope that that point is clear to another Member who made the same point.’
‘I have been very generous with interventions, but I want to clarify that point. I do not have much time, but I repeat: the ground on which Donald Trump is banning Muslims is not their faith; it is because he believes that they constitute a danger to the United States. That is the ground—[Interruption.] I am just explaining his logic; I do not agree with it. And I am saying that any case to ban Donald Trump would be on the basis that he is a danger to our civic safety. Logically, it is exactly the same.’
‘On the point about 1.6 billion Muslims, thank God there are not 1.6 billion Trumps.’
‘Yes, that would make our lives very difficult.
This has been a very engaging and enlightening debate, but it is no good saying, “Oh, he’s got huge publicity at the moment, so any more wouldn’t make any difference.” He was well known at the beginning of his campaign, but we have seen that there has been a crescendo of excitement and interest in the campaign. The very fact of this debate, as someone observed, is generating and stoking that excitement.’
‘I will not take any more interventions. I can see the hon. Lady itching in her seat, but I will resist that temptation.
What I am saying is that we are simply adding fuel to this whole media circus, and that is playing exactly into Donald Trump’s hands. A ban, if it happened, would be a headline throughout the world. It would simply reignite all the publicity that he generated with his outrageous policy and would exacerbate the situation. It would make it more likely that he would be the eventual victor in the Republican nomination fight, and he may well—who knows?—win the election in November. Then we would be in the absurd situation in which we would have banned the President of the United States from coming to Britain. That would be an insane situation to be in.
People may say that he has no chance of becoming President, but look at the odds on Jeremy Corbyn becoming the Leader of the Opposition. I think that someone in Essex—I am not sure whether it was in your constituency, Sir David—made £2,000, having put £10 on him at 200:1, and I can assure you that, as of today, the chances of Donald Trump becoming President are far greater than 200:1.’