Founder of pro-Trump petition 'proud' MPs will debate it
A man who set up a petition backing US President Donald Trump's state visit to the UK has said he is "very proud" that the issue will be debated by MPs.
Alan Brown created the petition, signed by more than 200,000 people, with his 13-year-old daughter after another petition, signed by 1.7 million, called for the state visit to be cancelled.
Mr Brown, 68, told the BBC the UK would be "very honoured" to host Mr Trump.
He claimed supporters of the rival petition were "decrying free speech".
The petitions come amid controversy over an executive order by Mr Trump halting the US refugee programme for 120 days and stopping the issuing of visas to nationals of seven mainly Muslim countries.
Mr Brown's petition argues Mr Trump's state visit should go ahead because the UK "supports free speech".
Mr Brown, a businessman who lives in Dover, told BBC Radio 5 live that the idea to start the petition had come from his daughter.
He said: "I was having a discussion with my daughter about this, and she said, 'Well if you feel so strongly, why don't you do your own petition?'
"So I said that I wouldn't know how, so she said, 'OK I'll do it for you'. So my daughter actually raised the petition."
'We need America'
Both petitions passed the threshold of 100,000 signatures needed to be considered for a debate in Parliament.
Explaining his reason for setting up the petition, Mr Brown added: "We are very honoured [by] the fact that he is giving us this visit so early... and I think he should be very pleased that we have given him the honour of seeing our Queen. So it's both ways.
"We need America at the moment if we are going to proceed with Brexit… I think that we don't want to go out of our way to alienate what could potentially be one of our best customers.
"Just because someone says something they don't like, should he be gagged?
"How can you have a discussion with somebody if you're not willing to enter into a discourse?"
'Very difficult position'
On Tuesday, a former head of the Foreign Office said the prime minister's decision to invite Mr Trump on a state visit had put the Queen in a "very difficult position".
Lord Ricketts told the BBC the visit should be delayed until later in Mr Trump's presidency because of the controversy around some of his policies.
Instead, Mr Trump should be invited for an official visit this year, "centred mainly on political talks with the prime minister", Lord Ricketts said.
Theresa May's office said on Monday that she was "very happy" to extend the invitation to Mr Trump on behalf of the Queen.