London, Feb 15: British Prime Minister Theresa May formally rejected a petition on Monday signed by nearly 2 million people wanting the cancellation of the proposed state visit to Britain by US President Donald Trump.
The petitioners said a state visit by Trump, which would involve a state banquet, would embarrass Queen Elizabeth, Xinhua news agency reported.
Officials at Westminster have scheduled a debate about the petition by MPs (Members of Parliament) next week when the Houses of Parliament re-open after a recess.
In its official response to the petition, May's government recognised the strong views of those who supported the petition, but added that the US President should be extended the full courtesy of a state visit.
Even if MPs vote in support of the petitioners there is no requirement on May or her government to accept their decision. "We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangements are finalised," said an official statement.
During May's visit to the United States on January 27, 2017, the British Prime Minister, on behalf of the Queen, invited Trump for a state visit to Britain later this year. The invitation was accepted.
Media in London are reporting that Trump's state visit will take place before the end of this month.
More than 200 MPs from across the political spectrum have signed a motion in the House of Commons saying they do not want permission to be granted to Trump to address politicians at the Houses of Parliament during his state visit.
They cite Trump's recent actions, including his executive order on immigration and refugees, and his comments on torture and women, as the reason for their stand.