U.K. lawmakers debate whether Trump has right to state visit

LONDON -- The United Kingdom is gripped by a fierce debate over whether President Trump deserves the recognition of a formal state visit. Thousands of people took to London’s streets Monday night to protest the invitation. Many argue having Mr. Trump officially welcomed by the queen would be an embarrassment to the crown. A petition opposing the visit has nearly two million signatures.

This wasn’t about whether Mr. Trump should be allowed to visit Britain, but whether he has the right to a state visit – meet with the queen, maybe stay at the palace, the whole shebang. Mostly, it was a chance to vent, inside that building and out, reports CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata.

There was a fierce debate over whether President Trump should be stripped of a state visit in the parliament.  

“We cannot accept the denigration of a free press, the denigration of a judiciary, the denigration of women, the denigration of religious minorities. … It wouldn’t be acceptable from any country but it certainly should not be acceptable from our greatest ally,” MP Stephen Doughty said.

MP Kirsten Oswald accused the government of cozying up to the president.

“This islamophobic, misogynistic leader of the free world, instead, as one of my constituents said to me, of having the balls to stand up and show some kind of moral backbone,” Oswald said. 

But those in defense of Mr. Trump, like conservative MP Nigel Evans said critics “should get over it.”

“He is going to go down in history as being roundly condemned for being the only politician to deliver on his promises,” Evans said. “We’re actually attacking the American people, the 61 million people who voted for Donald Trump.”

The last state visit by an American president was by President Obama in 2011

Unlike a regular visit, a state visit means rolling out the royal red carpet, including an official state banquet. It’s ostensibly an invitation  by the queen.

Traditionally U.S. presidents have to wait years for a state visit, if they get one at all. Mr. Trump only had to wait seven days. That triggered the petition and protests Monday night, arguing that a state visit would be an embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.

“There is no way, no way Donald Trump deserves this honor,” one protester said.

In the end, the protests, the petition, the debate don’t really matter. There was never going to be a vote anyway and that state visit will go ahead as planned.