The British Home Secretary has made a statement being widely interpreted as claiming that U.S. Presidential Candidate Donald Trump could yet be blocked from entering the UK.
A recent petition calling on the government to ban Mr Trump from the UK on the grounds of “hate speech” has topped half a million signatures; in its response, the government has said that the Home Secretary may bar people considered “non-conducive to the public good.”
In December Mr Trump hit the headlines after calling for a moratorium on entry to the United States for all Muslims until the threat of Islamic terrorism was better understood. His comments sparked a wave of outrage which swept across the Atlantic, prompting a petition calling upon the Government to ban him from entering 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,” the petition argued. It has now gained more than 560,000 signatures, far exceeding the 10,000 required for a government comment.
The government has now released a response, pointing out first and foremost that it does not routinely comment on immigration decisions.
However, it continues: “The Home Secretary may exclude a non-European Economic Area national from the UK if she considers their presence in the UK to be non-conducive to the public good.”
Both Home Secretary Theresa May and the Prime Minister David Cameron condemned Mr Trump’s remarks at the time as “divisive, unhelpful and wrong.”
Commenting on the matter during Prime Ministers Questions, Mr Cameron said: “I think his remarks are divisive, stupid and wrong and I think if he came to this country it would unite us all against him.”
Ms May has a track record of banning right wingers who speak out against the threat from Islamist ideology; in 2013 she barred Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, co-founders of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, who were due to speak at an event, from entering the country.
The pair called the ban a “a striking blow against freedom”, adding “the nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead”.
The Home Office’s response to the petition to ban Mr Trump reads in full:
‘For good reasons the Government does not routinely comment on individual immigration and exclusion decisions.
‘The Home Secretary may exclude a non-European Economic Area national from the UK if she considers their presence in the UK to be non-conducive to the public good.
‘The Home Secretary has said that coming to the UK is a privilege and not a right and she will continue to use the powers available to prevent from entering the UK those who seek to harm our society and who do not share our basic values.
‘Exclusion powers are very serious and are not used lightly. The Home Secretary will use these powers when justified and based on all available evidence.
‘The Prime Minister has made clear that he completely disagrees with Donald Trump’s remarks. The Home Secretary has said that Donald Trump’s remarks in relation to Muslims are divisive, unhelpful and wrong.
‘The Government recognises the strength of feeling against the remarks and will continue to speak out against comments which have the potential to divide our communities, regardless of who makes them. We reject any attempts to create division and marginalisation amongst those we endeavour to protect.’