- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2015

The U.K. government has officially responded to a petition to ban Donald Trump from the country, saying it will continue to speak out against comments that “have the potential to divide our communities.”

The response on the petition, which surpassed 566,000 signatures Thursday, makes no mention that Home Secretary Theresa May is actually considering a ban against the U.S. presidential candidate.

“For good reasons the Government does not routinely comment on individual immigration and exclusion decisions,” the response read. “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 recognizes 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 marginalization amongst those we endeavor to protect.”

The petition went on Parliament’s e-petition website on Dec. 8 in response to Mr. Trump’s controversial call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants entering the United States.

“The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK,” the petition read. “If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the ‘unacceptable behavior’ 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.”

Any petition with more than 100,000 signatures is automatically considered for debate in Parliament.

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