After raising hackles in Britain over his anti-Islam remarks, US presidential hopeful Donald Trump has threatened to withhold 700 million pounds worth of investment in Scotland if he is banned from entering the country.
Trump has significant investments in Scotland, where he owns the Turnberry golf course and the Trump International Golf Links near Aberdeen. In one of his campaign speeches, he proposed banning the entry of Muslims into the US.
The British parliament is scheduled to debate a proposal to ban him on January 18. Nearly 60,000 people signed a petition on the government website seeking the ban, which makes it obligatory for parliament to debate it.
In a statement, his Trump Organisation said it had planned to invest more than 200 million pounds at Turnberry and a further 500 million pounds at the Aberdeenshire course, but warned of consequences if he is banned from entering Britain.
It warned any action to restrict Trump’s travel would force it to “immediately end these and all future investments we are currently contemplating in the United Kingdom”.
It added: “Westminster would create a dangerous precedent and send a terrible message to the world that the United Kingdom opposes free speech and has no interest in attracting inward investment.
“This would also alienate the many millions of United States citizens who wholeheartedly support Mr Trump and have made him the forerunner by far in the 2016 presidential election.
“Many people now agree with Mr Trump that there is a serious problem that must be resolved. This can only be achieved if we are willing to discuss these tough issues openly and honestly.”
The British government’s response to the petition last week said: “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.”
It added: “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.
The government further said Prime Minister David Cameron had made it clear he “completely disagrees” with Trump’s remarks. The home secretary too has said Trump’s remarks in relation to Muslims are “divisive, unhelpful and wrong”.
Reiterating earlier comments against Trump, the response said the government recognised the strength of feeling against his remarks and will continue to speak out against comments that have the potential to divide communities.
“We reject any attempts to create division and marginalisation amongst those we endeavour to protect,” it added.
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has joined calls for Trump to be considered for exclusion from the UK. Cameron earlier called Trump’s comments about Muslims “stupid” but said he did not support a ban.