Saying that she does not agree with the approach, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May broke her silence over President Donald Trump’s U.S. immigration ban on Muslim-majority nations.
After the U.S. President temporarily froze the entry of other refugees and prohibited entry by people from seven majority-Muslim nations for 90 days and indefinitely barred the entry of people fleeing Syria on Friday, May, who met with Trump in Washington last week, has been criticized in Britain for refusing to speak out after the executive order. Trump has said that the order was to to stop terrorists and get control over the immigration system. Five percent of the U.K. population is Muslim.
At a time when she has a slender majority in the House of Commons, the fury from her own Conservative Party at a delicate time in the Brexit process was the most damaging.
Saying Britain will “make representations” to the U.S. government if the ban hits British citizens, her office acted to quell the backlash shortly after May returned to Britain from a visit to Turkey.
“Immigration policy in the United States is a matter for the government of the United States, just the same as immigration policy for this country should be set by our government,” a spokesman said in a statement. “But we do not agree with this kind of approach and it is not one we will be taking. We are studying this new executive order to see what it means and what the legal effects are, and in particular what the consequences are for U.K. nationals.”
May had been grilled at a news conference about what she thought of the ban in Ankara a day after meeting Trump. “The United States is responsible for the United States’ own policy on refugees,” she responded only when journalists heckled her to answer.
The reaction was immediate.
he and his wife are subject to the ban, pointed out Nadhim Zahawi, an Iraqi-born Conservative lawmaker. He felt “reassured” by the statement from May’s office, Zahawi said speaking on Sunday. “I don’t think we should look away when President Trump makes a mistake,” he said.
Trump shouldn’t be invited to address Parliament in his state visit to London later this year, said another Tory, Sarah Wollaston. May was scolded for being afraid to tell “someone powerful when they’re wrong” by Heidi Allen, a fellow Conservative.
With the prime minister announcing that Trump had accepted a personal invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to Buckingham Palace, May’s trip to Washington to tighten ties with the U.K.’s biggest trade partner had earlier been celebrated as a triumph.
Britain should be in “no rush” to have Trump visit, said Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the U.K. opposition Labour Party.
“We need to find out exactly what his intentions are in the long-run,” he said. “I think we should make it very clear we are extremely upset about it and it would be totally wrong for him to come here while it’s going on. I am not happy about him coming here until that ban is lifted.”
(Adapted from Bloomberg)