Donald Trump reacts to Brexit while in Scotland: 'It's a fantastic thing'

Donald Trump has arrived in Scotland, where he has a history of aggressive investment and riling tempers, just as Britain votes to leave the European Union. Local farmers have hoisted Mexican flags in protest of his two-day visit.

Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at his Turnberry golf course in Scotland.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is in Scotland on a two-day business trip. In uncanny timing, his visit promises to dredge up old resentments – and perhaps stir fresh ones, as post-Brexit Britain faces new uncertainties.

His arrival coincides with Britain's decision to leave the European Union, which Mr. Trump called "a fantastic thing" and a sign that the British "took back control of their country" on Thursday, according to the Washington Post. 

"They're angry over borders, they're angry over people coming into the country and taking over, nobody even knows who they are," Trump said to reporters after his helicopter landed at Trump Turnberry resort, in a speech that sounded similar to those of his campaign rallies across the United States.

Trump arrived in Scotland on Thursday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and press conference at his Turnberry golf resort, where a remodeling has just completed. On Saturday, he'll head north to another golf course he owns near Aberdeen. His trip stands in contrast to other recent trips made by presidential candidates, who usually try to give their campaign-season visits an air of historical gravitas, Time notes. Trump has no plans during his two-day trip to meet with officials.

Trump's mother, Mary McLeod, was born in the Isle of Lewis, and he has championed his ties to the country in the past, notes Time. And for a while, at least, Scotland responded in kind, naming him a global business ambassador in 2006. 

Recent years have been more conflictive. The Aberdeenshire golf course, built on a strip of land overlooking the North Sea, was initially welcomed by local authorities. But the magnet for growth they envisioned ended up becoming a magnet for controversy: Neighbors who refused to sell him their homes saw themselves become the target of insults; environmentalists took umbrage at his bulldozing of protected sand dunes; and pro-independence politicians who had once heralded his plans as a boon for investment suddenly had to deal with years of legal challenges to a wind-turbine project off the Aberdeen coast. Trump took his complaint all the way to Britain's highest court, which rejected it in 2015

In Scotland, voters rejected a referendum that would have established independence from Britain in 2014. And the country's voters are largely unhappy with the Brexit vote: They came out resoundingly in favor of staying with the European Union. In the wake of the vote, Scottish leaders said a new referendum on independence from Britain was "highly likely," according to NBC News.

Protestors awaited Trump on Thursday at his hotel, with local farmers hoisting Mexican flags on flagpoles in protest to Trump's planned wall for the US southern border. One of the organizers cited the candidate's "toxic, racist views" as well as his "misogyny and homophobia" in an interview with The Guardian

Perhaps his most prominent friend-turned-rival is former First Minister Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party, who supported the developer during his feuds with local residents but changed his tune during the court battles over the wind farm.  Mr. Salmond said flatly that Mr. Trump was not welcome in Scotland, in an interview with Bloomberg this week.

"He's not a popular person in Scotland," said Mr. Salmond, "but the way Trump talks you'd think he owned the country."

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