- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2016

Donald Trump threatened to withdraw $1 billion in investments from Scotland if the British government acts upon a viral petition calling for him to be banned.

The Republican presidential front-runner owns the Turnberry golf course in Ayrshire and Trump International Golf Links near Aberdeen. In a statement, the Trump Organization said it had planned to invest nearly $300 million in Turnberry and more than $700 million in Aberdeenshire, but threatened to end those investments if the government tried to restrict Mr. Trump’s travel, Politico reported.

“Any action to restrict travel would force the Trump Organization to immediately end these and all future investments we are currently contemplating in the United Kingdom,” the statement said.

The statement comes after a public petition, created in response to Mr. Trump’s proposed immigration ban against Muslims, called for the business magnate to be barred from entering the U.K. It was signed by more than 570,000 people, triggering a debate in the British parliament set for Jan. 18, Politico reported.

“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,” the Trump Organization said. “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 discuss these tough issues openly and honestly.”

The statement called on British people to sign a petition opposing a Trump ban, which has garnered 40,000 signatures and will also be debated in parliament, Politico reported.

The U.K. government has already officially responded to the petition calling for a Trump ban, saying Home Secretary Theresa May 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 statement did not name Mr. Trump and made no mention that the government is actually considering a ban against the U.S. presidential candidate.

“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 statement said. “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.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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