Monday 19 February 2018

Trump dismisses threat of UK ban for 'divisive' remarks

Trump supporters listen to a speech in Georgia.
Trump supporters listen to a speech in Georgia.

Michael Wilkinson in London

Donald Trump could be banned from entering the UK after Theresa May, the British Home Secretary, declared she 'may exclude' people who are not 'conducive to the public good'.

Banning entry to the UK for the US Republican presidential contender, who remains the frontrunner in the heated contest, has been called for by more than 560,000 people in a petition to the government.

After reaching 100,000 signatures, the British government confirmed that the petition could be discussed in Parliament. Now a spokesman for Mrs May has responded officially warning that Mr Trump's comments, in which he called for a ban on Muslims entering the US in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, were "divisive, unhelpful and wrong".

The statement said: "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."

She 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."

The statement added, however, that the government would not comment on Mr Trump's individual case.

The petition to block Mr Trump from entering the country quickly gathered momentum through social media.

But the candidate himself dismissed it, saying: "You know what 500,000 is? I have 10 million. Much more. Between Facebook and Twitter I have much more than 10 million. I could get 500,000 with one click."

The billionaire says he plans to spend at least $2m a week on television advertising in the first three voting states, a move that would mark a massive departure for a candidate who has so far relied on free media to fuel his insurgent campaign.

Despite his typically ironclad confidence, he told reporters invited aboard his private jet that he didn't want to take anything for granted.

"I don't think I need to spend anything. And I'm very proud of the fact that I've spent the least and achieved the best result," he said.

"I feel I should spend. And honestly, I don't want to take any chances."

Mr Trump, who leads in national Republican preference polls, has however, seen his lead dissolve in Iowa, where Texas Senator Ted Cruz is surging on the backing of the state's robust evangelical conservative voting bloc.

The frontrunner has spent nothing on television advertising to date, and just over $300,000 on radio ad time, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media's CMAG - far less than his rivals. Former Florida Gov Jeb Bush, for example, has spent more than $40m, but trails Trump and several other candidates.

Mr Trump has teased plans to advertise on television in the past, but ad buys have failed to materialise.

While Trump has said he's willing to spend whatever it takes to win the Republican nomination, he has proven a frugal campaigner, putting very little of his own money on the line.

While the self-styled 'The Donald' likes to claim he's self-funding his campaign, the vast majority of what he's spent so far has come from donors across America sending cheques or purchasing merchandise from his website. "I'll be spending a minimum of $2m a week and perhaps substantially more than that," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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