An online petition to bar Donald Trump from the United Kingdom zoomed past the 100,000-signature threshold Wednesday required for lawmakers to debate the issue.
The GOP front-runner has garnered backlash after saying Muslims should not be allowed into the U.S. — rhetoric that has been criticized worldwide. And by 6:10 p.m. (1:10 p.m. ET), the U.K. petition created on Tuesday had earned 258,934 signatures.
Mogul and reality show star Trump said on Monday that he backs “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Trump, who owns a Golf course in Scotland, said the ban was necessary to protect the U.S. from extremism.
Some in the U.K. say Trump’s remarks amount to hate speech.
The British government has the power to bar people considered a threat to public safety or national security, or those with criminal convictions. In the past, the U.K. has denied entry to figures as diverse as boxer Mike Tyson, rapper Tyler the Creator, radical Muslim preachers and the late Christian fundamentalist Fred Phelps Sr.
But it looked unlikely that the government of Prime Minister David Cameron would take that step. While criticizing Trump’s “nonsense views,” British Finance Minister George Osborne said on Wednesday it would be wrong to “ban presidential candidates.”
Answering questions in the House of Commons, Osborne said: “The best way to confront the views of someone like Donald Trump is to engage in a robust democratic argument with him about why he is profoundly wrong.”
The growing tide against Trump, which includes a handful of American mayors who would like to ban him from their cities, has spread to institutions of higher learning.
Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, announced Wednesday it was revoking the businessman’s honorary degree awarded in 2010. A spokesman cited “incompatible” views shared by Trump.
This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com