Britain is seriously considering banning Donald Trump, president or not, from their shores. If so that would put him in the category of men like African butcher Idi Amin, the Ugandan genocidal maniac who was barred from Britain when in office.
If it ever happened it would cause a major dilemma for Ireland where Trump is just as unpopular as he is in Britain if not more so.
Prime Minister David Cameron made his feeling clear, calling Trump’s comments "divisive, stupid and wrong."
"If he came to visit our country, I think he would unite us all against him," he told British parliamentarians.
European countries tend to identify far more with Democrats and Trump is regarded as a dangerous demagogue ripping the skin off racial sores in the US in his pursuit of power.
I was astonished while in Ireland at Christmas by the number of Irish who asked me if Americans were actually serious about electing Trump. When I answered that a significant percentage definitely were, they shook their heads in amazement.
There is precedent in Britain for such race politics. When he was an MP, Tory grandee Enoch Powell made a speech in 1968 in which he warned of a “river of blood” if immigrants were allowed into Britain, and for a time he got massive support. Donald Trump is his nearest American comparison.
Powell quoted approvingly from a constituent “In this country in 15 or 20 years time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man."
He also stated “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see "the River Tiber foaming with much blood."
Ireland has not been without its right wing cabal either. In the 1930s the Blueshirts, forerunners of Fine Gael, were open admirers of Hitler. Speaking of their leader Eoin O’Duffy, Richard English, professor of politics at Queen's in Belfast, said, "He was enthralled with Mussolini and later with Hitler. He was a fascist."
So, given that tradition, perhaps they should not be so surprised that 500,000 British called for a ban on Trump after his ban Muslim comments. They have seen this white-hot rhetoric before.
That number of 500,000 signatories automatically sparked a debate in the British parliament as it was five times the number needed.
The government responded to the petition calling for Donald Trump to be banned from entering Britain by pointing out that it has the power to exclude foreign nationals if their presence is “non-conducive to the public good.”
Home Secretary Theresa May found Trump’s remarks in relation to Muslims “divisive, unhelpful and wrong.”
It was quite an extraordinary intervention in a foreign election by a European leader.
The home secretary added she “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.’ basically placing Trump up there with potential ISIS recruiters."
The statement also made it clear that Prime Minister David Cameron “completely disagrees” with Trump’s remarks.
The statement adds: “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 statement either reflects total political correctness or genuine fear of upsetting uneasy race relations. Remember, Britain had its own homegrown ISIS problem. Jihadi John, their main executioner, was from Britain and they know there are many aimless youths similarly inclined.
The last thing they want is a Donald Trump-like figure, unwittingly or not, adding to the blame game on Muslims.
The furor is still another first in the increasingly weird Trump campaign. The special relationship between Britain and America is incredibly important to both countries as the Irish have often found out. Is Trump about to smash that too?
Donald Trump’s speech calling for ban on Muslims is closest comparison to Tory member of parliament Enoch Powell’s 1968 “river of blood” speech: