LONDON: Theresa May has been forced to make a hasty U-turn over Donald Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim-majority countries, issuing a midnight statement saying she does not agree with the policy. The British prime minister said she would appeal to the US if the ban affected British citizens. “We do not agree with this kind of approach and it is not one we will be taking,” she said. The US president signed an executive order on Friday banning the entry of refugees and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. It has caused confusion and panicamong travellers, with some turned back from US-bound flights. The row over the issue threatens to overshadow what had been widely seen as a successful visit by Mrs May to Washington last week, where she sought to find common ground on foreign policy with the new US president. On Saturday, pressed by British journalists during a press conference in Ankara, Turkey – on her way back from the US – she had refused to condemn Mr Trump’s refugee ban. Apparently reluctant to damage her relationship with Mr Trump, the prime minister declined to answer a question on the subject three times.
After being heckled by British journalists to answer the question, Mrs May said: “The United States is responsible for the United States’ policy on refugees.” This elicited criticism from other politicians including Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, who said the prime minister had demonstrated a “weak failure” by refusing to criticise the US president. “President Trump’s executive order against refugees and Muslims should shock and appal us all,” he said. “Theresa May should have stood up for Britain and our values by condemning his actions. It should sadden our country that she chose not to.” Mr Trump is expected to make a state visit to the UK in June, where he will meet the royal family. On Sunday morning Mr Corbyn said: “I’m not happy with him coming here until the ban is lifted.” Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “Any visit by President Trump to Britain should be on hold until his disgraceful ban comes to an end. Otherwise Theresa May would be placing the Queen in an impossible position of welcoming a man who is banning British citizens purely on grounds of their faith. Nadhim Zahawi, Conservative MP for Stratford-on-Avon, said he had been told by a US immigration lawyer that he would be affected by the ban because he was born in Iraq. “A sad, sad day to feel like a second-class citizen. Sad day for the USA,” he said.