Donald Trump in Scotland: 'Brexit a great thing'

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Media caption,

Donald Trump says the UK vote to leave the EU is "a good thing" as he lands in Scotland

US presidential hopeful Donald Trump has said it is a "great thing" that the people of the UK have "taken back their country" in voting to leave the EU.

His comments came as he arrived at Trump Turnberry for the reopening of the refurbished Open venue golf resort.

Mr Trump added his name to the Ayrshire hotel and golf course after buying the resort for an undisclosed fee in 2014.

Comedian Simon Brodkin later disrupted Mr Trump's news conference by waving golf balls with a swastika on them.

Media caption,

Donald Trump throws comedian Simon Brodkin, also known as Lee Nelson, out of Turnberry

Image source, PA

The presumptive Republican nominee was also the subject of a small protest by those who accuse him of "racism and bigotry" during his bid for the presidency.

Dozens of people, with placards stating "No To Racism", gathered outside the resort before Mr Trump arrived.

Mr Trump was asked about the EU referendum result, which saw Leave beat Remain by 52% to 48%, shortly after he touched down at Turnberry in a helicopter.

'People are angry'

The US billionaire answered: said: "I think it's a great thing that's happened. It's an amazing vote, very historic.

"People are angry all over the world. They're angry over borders, they're angry over people coming into the country and taking over and nobody even knows who they are.

"They're angry about many, many things in the UK, the US and many other places. This will not be the last."

Image source, Twitter

Mr Trump said UK divisions "will heal" as "it is a great place", adding: "I said this was going to happen and I think it is a great thing.

"Basically, they took back their country. That's a great thing.

"I think we're doing very well in the United States also, and it is essentially the same thing that is happening in the United States.

"I want to support my son who really represented me here in building this great great place (Turnberry)."

When asked his opinion on David Cameron announcing he is to step down as prime minister after the Leave vote, Mr Trump said: "Well, that's too bad."

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Donald Trump spoke to staff after arriving at Turnberry by helicopter

Analysis by BBC Scotland political reporter Philip Sim

Donald Trump is not generally regarded as a shy, modest man.

So few were surprised that despite arriving at his newly reopened Ayrshire golf course just minutes after the prime minister announced he was stepping down, Mr Trump had an eye on landing some headlines of his own.

The presidential hopeful swept off the helicopter with his name written down the side of it, at Turnberry, the golf course he has also appended his name to, and proclaimed that he had predicted the whole Brexit thing ages ago.

And in any case, it was great news - especially for anyone hoping to harness a similar anti-establishment wave in, say, a White House bid.

Mr Trump's words carry some weight, given that shortly after Mr Cameron leaves Downing Street, he could be moving in to the Oval Office.

And the massive, multinational press pack which greeted him at Turnberry even on this rather busy news day will have done nothing to dent his self-confidence.

Despite the characteristically chaotic approach - the carefully planned itinerary was changed twice, only for Mr Trump to turn up more than half an hour late to both events anyway, before he called for "ONE more question" at least a dozen times at the press conference - the media were tightly controlled throughout the event.

First we were scanned with metal detectors, then ferried to the hotel (all of 200m away) on a series of buses.

The buses were on hand again to take us just down the road to the golf course, the route keeping the media a safe distance from the handful of protesters who had gathered - just 43 of them, Mr Trump said, with a mild air of disappointment.

But then, that's life for a big-hitting presidential candidate, he assured us.

"Half of the people love you, the other half hate you," he said. "That's politics."

Speaking at a news conference, Mr Trump acknowledged his family connection with Scotland through his mother Mary MacLeod, who was born in Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides.

"She loved Scotland, she would be here a lot," he said.

"She would come every year with my sister Mary and my sister Elizabeth and they just loved it. Her loyalty to Scotland was incredible."

The billionaire said his mother would often visit Turnberry for dinner with friends but she never played golf.

He said it was "an honour" to have taken ownership of the resort, which he acquired from Dubai-based Leisurecorp two years ago, before adding his name to the brand.

'Incredible support'

Mr Trump owns more than a dozen golf resorts in the US and opened his first in the UK, at the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire, in 2012 after controversy surrounding planning, environmental issues and clashes with local people who refused to move.

In perhaps a veiled reference to those past difficulties, he praised the local politicians in Ayrshire for working with him to approve the refurbishment plans for Turnberry.

"The local politicians, and all of the politicians all throughout have been absolutely incredible," he said, adding: "They have approved virtually everything that we asked for."

Mr Trump also praised the Royal and Ancient, the ruling body in golf outside north America, for working closely while changes were made to the resort's Open course.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The lighthouse at Turnberry provided a picturesque backdrop to Donald Trump's news conference

Turnberry is one of 10 UK golf courses to host the Open golf championship on a rotational basis.

The tournament has been played there on four occasions, most recently in 2009.

The Open is expected to be played in England in 2020 and at St Andrews in 2021, meaning the earliest it could return to Turnberry would be 2022.

Mr Trump's news conference was interrupted comedian Simon Brodkin, also known as Lee Nelson, who attempted to hand out golf balls with a swastika on them. He was escorted away by security officials.

Controversial comments

That incident, and the protest outside Turnberry, appear to have been motivated by controversial comments from the outspoken billionaire during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Most notable among these was his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US following the San Bernardino shootings in California.

This prompted a petition advocating a ban on Mr Trump coming to the UK, which attracted hundreds of thousands of signatures. This in turn triggered a debate at a Westminster committee room, which ended without a vote being taken.

Mr Trump's comments on Muslims were described as "divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong" by Prime Minister David Cameron and "repugnant and offensive" by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Earlier this week, two local residents began flying Mexican flags on properties surrounding Mr Trump's other Scottish golf course in Aberdeenshire.

They said they wanted to "show solidarity" with the people of Mexico after Mr Trump outlined plans to build a wall along the US-Mexico border to stop illegal immigrants.

Before Mr Trump arrived, Keir McKechnie, spokesman for Stand Up to Racism Scotland, said: "His message of hate is one that we'll challenge and we would not encourage anyone to support him in his presidency.

"We want to represent people across the whole of the UK and beyond who reject Trump's racism and Islamophobia."

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