British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Congress of Tomorrow Republican Member Retreat at Loews Philadelphia Hotel on January 26, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. British Prime Minister Theresa May is on a two-day visit to the United States and will be the first world leader to meet with President Donald Trump. PHOTO: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images/AFP
Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday told British lawmakers that US President Donald Trump’s temporary immigration ban was “divisive and wrong”, five days after she initially refused to condemn the move.
“On the policy that President Trump has introduced, this government is clear that that policy is wrong”, May told MPs after being pressed by opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn in parliament.
“We believe it is divisive and wrong,” she said, speaking to MPs for the first time since the travel ban came into force.
Trump’s executive order bars refugee arrivals for at least 120 days and suspends visas from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — for 90 days.
The prime minister was keen to emphasise she had no advance notice of Trump’s plans.
“If he (Corbyn) is asking me whether I had advance notice of the ban on refugees, the answer is no. If he is asking me if I had advance notice that the executive order could affect British citizens, the answer is no.
“If he is asking if I had advance notice of the travel restrictions, the answer is we all did, because President Trump said he was going to do this in his election campaign.”
Imposed on Friday, the same day the prime minister visited the White House, the ban sparked global mass protests and was swiftly condemned by the United Nations and countries including Germany and France.
But the following day, May failed to condemn the policy despite being asked three times, saying the US was responsible for its own refugee policy.
She then issued a statement saying she did “not agree” with it.
Thousands took to Britain’s streets to protest the ban and 1.8 million have signed a petition demanding her invitation for Donald Trump to come on a ceremonial state visit be withdrawn.