A debate will be held in Westminster today on a petition calling for Donald Trump to be banned from the UK.
Members will debate the petition – started after the presidential hopeful called for Muslims to be banned from the US – which has more than half a million signatures.
But last night, one of the country’s most senior back-bench MPs described the debate as “counter-productive”.
Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg described the debate as a “mistake”, arguing that it only serves to publicise the under-fire tycoon’s views.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think it is counterproductive.
“I think most democracies resent interference by foreigners and if we have a motion attacking Trump that helps his campaign.”
Mr Rees-Mogg used an example of how British citizens campaigning against George W Bush in the 2004 election actually served to help the Republican’s presidential bid.
“In George Bush’s election campaign, Guardian readers were invited to write to people in Oregon, which I think was a swing state at the time, urging them to vote for John Kerry,” he said.
“This actually did the world of good for George Bush’s campaign because people resented being told what to do by outsiders.
“We wouldn’t like it if people did that with our election.
“I think the people who want to attack Trump will actually end up promoting him.
“I think it is a mistake – it is not wrong to debate it, but it is counterproductive.”
Labour MP Paul Flynn, a member of the Commons petitions committee that decided to grant the debate, will lead the discussion in Westminster Hall today.
A counter-petition entitled Don’t Ban Donald Trump from the UK, which has just under 40,000 signatures, will also be debated by MPs.
The New York-based businessman, who is seeking the Republican nomination, was widely condemned after he called for a
“total and complete shutdown” of Muslims coming to the US in the aftermath of a terror attack in California.
He was stripped of his Robert Gordon University honorary degree and Nicola Sturgeon withdrew the tycoon’s membership of the GlobalScot network.
A petition on the UK parliamentary website must be considered for debate if it exceeds 100,000 signatures.
The one calling for Mr Trump to be banned is understood to be the most popular ever, beating the previous record holder which called on the UK to accept more asylum seekers and increase refugee support.