Donald Trump could be banned from entering the UK following the biggest ever petition given to the Government by British citizens. The petition was created after the Republican presidential candidate made a series of incendiary statements suggesting that Britain has a "massive Muslim problem".
The US presidential candidate faced a public backlash after he accused Britons of "trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem" and accused his critics of "pandering to political correctness".
In a series of outbursts, he added that "UK politicians should be thanking me" after he suggested that Muslim communities in the UK are no-go areas because of extremism, adding that "we have places in London and other places that are so radicalised that police are afraid for their own lives".
While Prime Minister David Cameron had earlier slammed Trump's call to ban all Muslims from entering America as 'divisive, stupid and wrong', the government has now formally acknowledged the overriding public sentiment opposing Trump's views and the "strength of feeling" behind the more than 565,000 signatures.
The Government has declared that if the Republican presidential candidate is deemed by ministers to be "non-conducive to the public good", he could be banned from entering the UK. A Home Office statement 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.
"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."
The petition to the Government read: "The signatories believe Donald J Trump should be banned from UK entry. The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter 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 the poor, and the weak as well as the powerful."
Home Secretary Theresa May had also condemned the business tycoon's comments but would not comment on the question of his exclusion from the UK, the Mail Online reports.
She said: "I think we all agree that the comments Donald Trump made in relation to Muslims were divisive, unhelpful and wrong. In relation to the question of banning individuals from the UK, given the role I play in making those decisions, I don't comment on individual cases. The decision on whether to ban anyone from the UK is made by the home secretary on the basis of the evidence at the time."
The billionaire tycoon has been criticised from both sides of the presidential election campaign as well 10 Downing Street for his comments calling for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the US, including tourists and US citizens returning to their own country, in the wake of the Paris terror attacks and San Bernardino shootings in California.
Despite being condemned by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, David Cameron and rival Republican candidates Jeb Bush and Ben Carson, the 69-year-old refused to back down from his proposal if he was elected president.
Yet, despite his inflammatory remarks, Trump has still become an unlikely front runner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, ahead of the contest to replace Barack Obama in the White House next year with his poll rating improving after reach controversy.
MPs will decide whether to debate the petition in the New Year.