The deputy leader of Ukip has said his party does not have a ‘Muslim ban’ policy – but suggested the reaction to Donald Trump’s executive order has been “hysterical”.
Peter Whittle was speaking to talkRADIO after Ukip’s former leader Nigel Farage told the BBC he would welcome “extreme vetting” in the UK.
Whittle said a ban on people travelling to the UK from Muslim countries “has not been our policy, it’s never been our policy,” although he added that “we have to have extremely careful [about immigration] and, thorough border controls, we have to know who’s coming into our country.”
Turning to Farage, Whittle said he had every right to say what he thinks – and Britain has no right to attempt to interfere in US politics by banning Mr Trump from visiting.
A million people have signed a petition calling for Mr Trump’s state visit to be blocked, but Whittle said: “Donald Trump was voted for fairly and squarely and the idea that you cancel his state visit is ridiculous. He’s enacting what’s people there. What we think about it is irrelevant.
“[The travel ban] was something the president stood for on his campaign and people voted for him on that basis. That’s just undeniable.
“We don’t like people interrupting our political affairs. When Obama came over during the referendum campaign, we didn’t like that.”
Whittle also suggested the mass protests were driven by general animus towards Donald Trump, rather than a specific issue with his ban.
“What’s interesting in this hysterical response is [that it’s] quite selective. In 2011 President Obama banned refugees from Iraq for six months, there was no outcry. People didn’t kick off.
“Where were the people signing these petitions when the [representatives of] Saudi Arabia came to Britain, or the representatives in China?
“This is people who were opposed to Trump… who are essentially angry about his election and are using this to demonstrate.”