Martin Luther King “would be proud” of Donald Trump for “what he’s done for the black and Hispanic community”, Steve Bannon has suggested.

The civil rights leader would approve of the president’s anti-immigration policies as they prevent “illegal alien labour forces” competing with black Americans for jobs, the Republican’s former chief strategist claimed.

Speaking on BBC Two’s Newsnight, Mr Bannon said: “Donald Trump has the lowest black unemployment in history. Donald Trump has the lowest Hispanic unemployment in 25 years.

“If you look at the policies of Donald Trump, anybody… Martin Luther King would be proud of him, of what he’s done for the black and Hispanic community for jobs.”

Asked to clarify his comments by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, Mr Bannon replied: “You don’t think Martin Luther King would be proud? Look at the unemployment we had in the black community five years ago.

“You don’t think Martin Luther King would sit there and go ‘Yes, you’re putting young black men and women to work.

“There’s the lowest unemployment we’ve had in history, and wages are starting to rise among the working class, and you’ve finally stopped the illegal alien labour forces coming in and competing with them every day and destroying the schools and destroying the healthcare.’ Absolutely.”

Black unemployment fell to 6.8 per cent in December, the lowest since figures were first broken down by race in 1972.

However, the rate has since climbed higher and experts say neither the fall nor rise can be attributed to Mr Trump’s policies.

During the Newsnight interview, Mr Bannon also suggested the US pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal showed he was sympathetic towards Muslims.

The action was aimed partly at preventing Iran “exporting Hezbollah terrorism against Sunni Arab countries – Muslim countries,” said Mr Bannon.

He added: “How can anybody sit there and say Donald Trump has not been someone that’s embraced the nations that are tied to Islam?

Asked by Ms Maitlis if he was saying the president “pulled out of the Iran deal because he loved Muslims”, Mr Bannon replied: “I’m saying he pulled out of the Iran deal because Iran’s efforts to get a nuclear weapon and most importantly that it’s behaviour with Hezbollah was a problem with the nations in the Middle East and the nations in the Gulf and Israel .

“Yes, he absolutely did that.”