News that President Donald Trump might address crowds of supporters at a stadium in the city of Birmingham has been met with anger by a number of MPs, activists and ordinary “Brummies,” as the locals are nicknamed.
According to the U.K.’s Telegraph and others in the British media, the White House is considering moving the locus of Trump’s state visit from London to the country’s second most populous city. Trump would reportedly host a rally in a large venue such as Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, with profits from £10 ($12.50) tickets going to a charity for the British armed forces. TIME contacted the White House for comment, but did not hear back.
The hope is that Birmingham, where 50.5% of the city voted to leave the European Union last summer (as opposed to just 40.1% of London), might be more receptive and sympathetic toward the President than the capital, where thousands protested the travel ban and demanded that the British government withdrew Trump’s state visit invitation.
“It would be his biggest rally with 85,000 people coming together to celebrate the US-UK special relationship,” a source told the Telegraph. “If he is not speaking to the Houses of Parliament, let’s go to the people.”
But a number of Birmingham MPs and councillors have made it clear that President Trump would not be welcome in the city, despite Birmingham’s slim pro-Brexit majority. Liam Byrne, a Labour MP for the city’s Hodge Hill, launched a petition on Sunday calling for Trump to be banned from the city. The petition had reached 1,406 signatures at the time of writing.
“President Trump would be a very divisive influence,” Byrne told TIME during a telephone interview. “If we thought we could take him out for a curry and show him the best of our city and change his views then we’d be rolling out the red carpet. But we know it won’t be like that; there’d be a massive security bill, huge demonstrations and it wouldn’t be good for the U.S./U.K. relationship.”
Byrne added that he believed Trump’s visits would lead to the “biggest protests ever seen” in the country. “Birmingham is in the center of England, it’s a good place to get to and protest,” he told TIME. “The feeling here post-Brexit is that we need to come together as a country at the moment – we need a unifier, not a divider.” When asked why he thought Birmingham was being discussed as a potential location, Byrne said: “I have no idea. It sounds bananas to me.”
Kerry Jenkins, a Labour councillor for Birmingham’s Hall Green Ward, told TIME that she felt the city’s “diverse communities” would never forgive the council if they welcomed Trump with open arms. “Trump’s comments are out there for all to see, full of hatred, full of an ideology based on discrimination with just one intent – to stir up racial hatred,” she said. “I am certain that our diverse communities will take to the streets in their hundreds of thousands and be supported by many more if this visit does indeed take place.”
Not everyone is opposed to Trump touching down in Birmingham, however. John Lamb, a spokesperson for the city’s Chamber of Commerce, told the BBC that the Chamber would not be against a visit. “The business community is quite fascinated by Donald Trump and he is a democratically-elected leader; a world leader – an important world leader- so why not?” Lamb said.