NEWS

No, Boris Johnson Didn't Win UK 'Exemption' From Donald Trump's Travel Ban

Canada received same 'clarification' 15 hours earlier.

30/01/2017 00:10 | Updated 30 January 2017
Matt Crossick/Matt Crossick

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won the same “clarification” as British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Donald Trump’s travel ban - just 15 hours before the UK announced it and without requiring a “special relationship”.

On Sunday evening, the Foreign Office announced British dual nationals are exempt from the US President’s ban on travel to the US unless they’re travelling from one of the seven predominantly Muslim countries he has outlawed. 

The statement eased fears among hundreds of thousands of Brits - including Somalia-born Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah - that they would be affected by the order.

In a statement, the Foreign Office confirmed that following conversations with the US Government it could say British citizens with dual nationality with one of seven countries - Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan - would only face extra border checks if they were arriving from those countries. The department cited the example a UK-Libya dual national coming from Libya to the US.

A number of UK newspaper front pages hailed Johnson’s intervention.

As reported by HuffPost UK, the Foreign Office has been maximising the much-vaunted “special relationship” it had built up with the US State Department and White House in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Johnson had travelled to the States to meet key members of the Trump transition team.

The Foreign Secretary had met Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, as well as Steve Bannon, his chief strategist and Steve Miller, his quietly important speechwriter and policy aide.

Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is not yet in place, so it was decided that going to the White House direct was a better option.

After an exchange of texts, Johnson was phoned personally by Kushner, who confirmed the executive order could be clarified to make clear it would not affect Brits including Sir Mo or Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi, who as he was Iraq-born feared too he would face restrictions.  

Little noticed back in the UK, Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau had won a similar clarification in the early hours of Sunday.

Trudeau, who has been critical of the new President’s administration, talked to Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn and got a clarification that dual nationals would not be affected.

Trudeau had actually got his clarification about 15 hours before the Brits announced it, partly because of the time difference but also because No. 10 had failed to get to the White House after May landed in Heathrow on Saturday night.

After Johnson talked to Kushner on Sunday afternoon, the Foreign Office agreed it would not ‘spin’ the news as an ‘exemption’.

Just after 6pm, the breakthrough was conveyed to the Prime Minister. After careful drafting by the Whitehall machine, the news was released just after 8pm.

The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has today held conversations with the US Government and as a result we can clarify that:

  • The Presidential executive order only applies to individuals travelling from one of the seven named countries.

  • 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.

  • If you are a UK national who happens to be travelling from one of those countries to the US, then the order does not apply to you – even if you were born in one of those countries.

  • If you are a dual citizen of one of those countries travelling to the US from OUTSIDE those countries then the order does not apply to you.

The only dual nationals who might have extra checks are those coming from one of the seven countries themselves – for example a UK-Libya dual national coming from Libya to the US.

The US has reaffirmed its strong commitment to the expeditious processing of all travellers from the United Kingdom.

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