Petition to ban Donald Trump from UK over Muslim comments nears 500,000
An online petition to ban US presidential hopeful Donald Trump has become the most popular on the Government's website as it soared towards half a million signatures.
The property tycoon and reality TV star, who is seeking the Republican nomination for next year's presidential election, sparked outrage with his call for Muslims to be barred from entering the US and his claim that parts of London were so "radicalised" that police feared for their lives.
Prime Minister David Cameron said his comments were "divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong", while London Mayor Boris Johnson said they rendered him "unfit to hold the office of the president of the United States".
A poll on the parliamentary website calling for his exclusion from the UK raced past the 100,000-signature threshold to be considered for debate in Parliament and has now topped the previous record of 446,482.
But polls taken in the US after the remarks were publicised showed a spike in support among Republican primary voters, with Mr Trump on around 35% and as many as 20 points ahead of his main rivals.
Mr Trump was unrepentant as he posted a message on Twitter: "The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem. Everybody is wise to what is happening, very sad! Be honest."
Asked for Mr Cameron's response to the businessman's latest claim, a Downing Street spokesman said: "He wouldn't agree."
At its peak, the petition was lengthening by more than seven signatures a second and users experienced difficulties accessing the page due to higher than usual traffic.
The previous top spot was held by a petition earlier this year calling for the UK to accept more asylum seekers and increase refugee support, which was signed 446,924 times.
Suzanne Kelly, who originally lodged the document, said it was "one of many little acts of defiance" against Mr Trump.
The 54-year-old from Aberdeen said: "I started the petition on 28 November. It was after the petition was lodged that Mr Trump made his anti-Muslim remarks. These confirmed for me that what I did in starting this petition was right.
"Is there a group this man hasn't made hateful remarks about? In a presidential candidate, this is unacceptable.
"For me, freedom of speech comes with responsibility. There is great power in words, which the UK Government recognises in its anti-hate speech principles. I am gratified so many people feel as I do."
The American tycoon received backing from TV personality and MailOnline columnist Katie Hopkins, who urged the public not to demonise him.
Hopkins, who told Fox News Mr Trump had support from a quarter of the population of the UK, tweeted: "It's because Trump & I articulate sentiments repressed by the politically correct consensus that we have a voice."
Mr Trump then thanked the "respected columnist" for her "powerful writing on the U.K.'s Muslim problems" before claiming "Many people in the U.K. agree with me!"