Trump ban: What are the UK's biggest ever petitions and were any successful?

More than a million people have signed the petition against Trump's state visit
More than a million people have signed the petition against Trump’s state visit

More than one million people have signed a petition arguing that Donald Trump should be banned from making a state visit to the UK.

This weekend, the new president signed an executive order banning nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering US, provoking anger and protests across the globe.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson branded the policy “divisive and wrong”, as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a ban “while Trump abuses our shared values with his shameful Muslim ban and attacks on refugees’ and women’s rights.”

Prime Minister Theresa May has been heavily criticised for failing to condemn the ban in strong terms, while Number 10 has since dismissed the call for a ban.

The petition, which at the time of writing on Monday lunchtime had 1,104,365 signatories, reads: “Donald Trump should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.”

It is now the second most popular petition in the website’s history. Once petitions reach more than 100,000 signatories, parliament must consider them for debate in the House of Commons.

But what else makes the list of most popular petitions — and were any of them successful?

Protests have taken place across the globe
Protests have taken place across the globe (Rex)

9) Stop spending a fixed 0.7 per cent slice of our national wealth on Foreign Aid

The ninth most popular campaign on was set up by the Mail on Sunday, which argued that foreign aid should be reserved “for truly deserving causes, on a case-by-case basis”, particularly in the face of budget cuts at home.

A bill passed in 2015 enshrined in law the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on aid every year. The Mail on Sunday argued that “UK handouts would rise from current £12bn to £16bn by 2020… leading to huge waste and corruption.”

Despite David Cameron describing the foreign aid budget as one of his proudest achievements as prime minister, 235,979 people signed the petition.

Failure. The petition was debated in parliament on June 13, 2016. “The UK’s aid commitment means we can be proud to be a country that not only meets its responsibilities to the world’s poorest, but in doing so best serves and protects its own security and interests,” said the government.

8) Make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal

Legalising cannabis could bring in £900m in taxes every year, save £400m on policing cannabis and create over 10,000 new jobs — or at least that’s what the 236,995 people who signed this petition argue.

The petition said that the substance “is safer than alcohol, and has many uses” and “is believed to have been used by humans for over 4,000 years, being made illegal in the UK in 1925.”

The figures quoted were taken from a report by the Institute for Economic and Research and data from Colorado, which legalised marijuana in 2014 and where 10,000 now work in the marijuana industry.

RESULT: Failure. Parliament debated the issue on October 12, 2015. The Government argued: “Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health. There are no plans to legalise cannabis as it would not address the harm to individuals and communities.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt (Rex)

7) Consider a vote of No Confidence in Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary

A YouGov poll in February 2016 found Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, to be far and away the least popular frontline politician of any UK party. This petition, which asked for a vote of no confidence in him, seems to support this, with 339,925 signatures.

It said: “Mr Hunt recently gave totally inappropriate advice to Google conditions before seeking medical opinion. He referred to Paramedics as Ambulance Drivers and has caused the first Doctors strike in years of the NHS. Mr Hunt is destroying all staff morale in the NHS & will cause recruitment issues.”

The petition, which was closed in August 2016, preceded the NHS crisis this winter where more than 20 hospitals in England declared a ‘black alert’ due to overcrowding.

RESULT: Failure. The House of Commons Petitions Committee decline to debate the issue, arguing it “does not have the power to schedule debates on motions of no confidence, and the petition does not contain a specific request for action on policy.”

6) Accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK

“There is a global refugee crisis [and] the UK is not offering proportional asylum in comparison with European counterparts,” argued this petition signed by 450,287 people.

In 2015, Germany said it would welcome 800,00 Syrian refugees, whereas the Home Office said it was expecting to accept fewer than 1,000. In fact, between June 2014 and June 2015, just 166 had been given asylum.

The petition said: “We can’t allow refugees who have risked their lives to escape horrendous conflict and violence to be left living in dire, unsafe and inhumane conditions in Europe. We must help.”

RESULT: Some success. The shocking image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on a Turkish beach had a huge impact on the public’s perception of the refugee crisis, and put pressure on the government to do more. A day after this petition was debated, David Cameron announced plans to welcome 20,000 refugees to the UK before 2020. However, Theresa May has resisted call to accept more, and figures are sketchy.

Refugees in Greece (Rex)
Refugees in Greece (Rex)

5) Stop all immigration and close the UK borders until ISIS is defeated

The fifth most popular petition on the website demands the exact opposite of the sixth. Referencing claims in the Daily Mail and Express, the petition, which was signed by 463,501 people, argued that “allowing uncontrolled immigration and taking in these refugees potentially endangers the entire UK population.”

“At any other time in our history,” it said, “this would be tantamount to a declaration of war and borders would be closed.”

Tina Reevees, who stared the petition, was widely mocked after it was revealed that she had emigrated from the UK to live in Spain.

RESULT: Failure. The committee decline to debate the petition, having done so with a similar petition earlier. The government responded unequivocally and said that it would not be closing UK borders.

4) Block Donald J Trump from UK entry

Sound familiar? That’s right, the current petition to prevent Donald Trump from visiting the UK is not even the first. An earlier petition, posted in December 2015 before Trump was the Republican’s presidential nominee, argued that “the UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech [and that] the same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK”.

“If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the ‘unacceptable behaviour’ criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful,” it read.

The reason? Trump’s promise, if elected, to ban all Muslims from entering the US. It was signed by 586,930 people.

RESULT: Failure. The government’s response then, when a Trump victory seemed beyond the realms of possibility, was far more robust. David Cameron said he completed disagreed with Trump, while Boris Johnson, then London mayor, sparked a war of words with the tycoon, calling his proposals “utter nonsense.” Parliament debated it — where Trump was called a “dangerous fool” and a “wazzock” by MPs — but he was still allowed to visit.

3) Give the Meningitis B vaccine to ALL children, not just newborn babies.

The third most popular on the website, this petition has been signed by 823,348 people.

“All children are at risk from this terrible infection, yet the Government plan to only vaccinate 2-5 month olds. There needs to be a rollout programme to vaccinate all children, at least up to age 11. Meningococcal infections can be very serious,” it read.

The petition gathered pace after the parents of Faye Burdett, from Maidstone in Kent, who died on after fighting the meningitis B infection for 11 days, shared her picture online. At the time, in March 2016, it was the most signed petition in the website’s history.

RESULT: Failure. Parliament debated the issue, but the government dismissed the arguments, responding that “the programme, as advised by independent experts, offers protection to those at highest risk.”

1) EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum

By far the most popular petition on the parliament website (at the moment at least), is this campaign demanding a second referendum, following the Brexit vote in June last year.

The post, which has been signed by a staggering 4,150,260 people argued that the government should “implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60 per cent based a turnout less than 75 per cent there should be another referendum.”

The campaign took after the historic Leave vote as millions of remain voters attempted to find ways to prevent the triggering of Article 50, which formally begins the process of leaving the EU.

RESULT: Failure. Parliament debated the topic, but the government argued that when “the European Union Referendum Act received Royal Assent in December 2015 … the Act did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout.” Article 50 will be triggered at the end of March.