UK leader faces criticism over Trump visa ban

UK leader faces criticism over Trump visa ban
The UK has gained an exemption for its citizens from US immigration bans, but Theresa May has faced backlash for not openly opposing the law.
2 min read
30 January, 2017
1 million have signed a petition to stop Trump coming to the UK [Getty]
Prime Minister Theresa May is facing criticism for her initial response to Donald Trump's border clampdown, as the the UK leader announced it had won an exemption for its citizens from the US president's "Muslim ban".

Shortly after the prime minister held talks with Trump at the White House on Friday, the new president signed an executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough new controls on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Trump's move prompted an online petition to stop him making a planned state visit to the UK, a regal and glitzy affair which involves formalities such as a royal banquet in the Buckingham Palace Ballroom.

By early Monday the petition to the UK parliament had attracted over a million signatures.

May sparked controversy Saturday after refusing to condemn Trump's immigration clampdown when pressed by journalists during a trip to Turkey.

She later issued a stronger statement as it emerged British citizens had been affected.

"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 from her office said on Sunday.

"But we do not agree with this kind of approach and it is not one we will be taking," he added.

Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said it was "divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality."

On Sunday UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said he had "won" an exemption for British citizens and dual nationals after he discussed the matter with Washington.

The foreign ministry subsequently announced the order would only apply to individuals travelling directly to the US from one of the seven listed countries - Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Sudan.

"If you are travelling to the US from anywhere other than one of those countries (for instance, the UK) the executive order does not apply to you and you will experience no extra checks regardless of your nationality or your place of birth," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

However, the ploy has seen the Conservatives face criticism from British people who believe the goverment should be showing solidarity with the Muslims affected by the ban.