London: UK Prime Minister Theresa May today branded US President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions on nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries as “divisive and wrong”, days after she refused to condemn the move.
The British Prime Minister was addressing her weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons when she was pushed by Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn into making her views on the issue clear.
“This government is clear that the policy is wrong. We wouldn’t do it, in six years as Home Secretary I never introduced such a policy, we believe it is divisive and wrong,” May said in Parliament.
She also went on to deny that she had any prior information of such a ban during her meeting with the US President in the White House just days before.
“If he’s (Corbyn) asking me whether I had advanced notice of the ban on refugees, if he’s asking me if I had advanced notice of whether the order could affect British citizens, the answer is no, if he’s asking if I had advanced notice of travel restrictions, the answer is we all did because President Trump said he would do this in his election campaign,” she said.
“The job of government is not to chase headlines, the job of government is not to take to the streets in protest, the job of government is to protect the interests of British citizens and that’s what we did… he can lead a protest, I am leading a country,” said May, addressing the Labour party leader in a strong clash between the two leaders.
But May initially did not condemn the measure, saying the US was responsible for its own refugee policy. She then issued a statement saying she did “not agree” with it.
An executive order signed by Trump over the weekend had halted the US refugee programme for 120 days and indefinitely banned all Syrian refugees.
A separate order also suspended all entry from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Syria on national security grounds.
Protests erupted across Britain earlier this week against Trump’s orders and a petition calling for his planned State Visit to the UK later this year to be called off crossed 1.6 million signatures.
It is now scheduled for a debate in Parliament on February 20.
However, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson today told reporters there were no plans of cancelling the visit.
“The invite has been made and it stands.
The US is a vital ally for the UK. People have a right to peacefully protest and express their views. The invitation has been made on behalf of Queen,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
A date is yet to be confirmed for the proposed State Visit by Trump, which is expected towards the middle of the year.