David Cameron changes his tune on Donald Trump (but only to a point)
The prime minister said the maverick billionaire deserves respect - even though he remains wrong about Muslims.
David Cameron has shown the first signs of warmth towards Donald Trump by declaring that controversial presidential candidate should be respected for getting through the Republican primary process.
The prime minister's olive branch suggests Downing Street is now seriously considering the prospect of the maverick billionaire making it to the White House.
Speaking at a joint press conference alongside his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, Cameron said: "Knowing the gruelling nature of the primaries, what you have to go through to go on and represent your party in a general election – anyone who makes it through that deserves our respect."
The remarks demonstrate a softening in Cameron's approach to Trump - but only to a point, as the prime minister refused to retract his previous claim that the billionaire’s proposal for banning Muslims from the US was "stupid, divisive and wrong".
Rather, he stated: "What I said about Muslims, I wouldn’t change that view. I’m very clear that the policy idea that was put forward was wrong, it is wrong, and it will remain wrong."
The prime minister’s spokeswoman later said the prime minister respected Trump, “politician to politician”
Cameron’s change of tone come after an adviser to Trump, George Papadopoulos, said on Wednesday that he thought the prime minister should reach out with an apology or some sort of retraction.
Cameron met Mitt Romney, the Republicans’ last candidate, in 2012. No 10 sources have said Cameron would be willing to meet Trump, as he would any other presidential candidate who visited the UK and requested discussions.