Theresa May has refused to reveal whether the White House gave her advance notice of Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban.
The Prime Minister ducked the issue when challenged by Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Question Time over the restrictions on refugees and nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
A full five days since the Presidential executive order was issued, May finally declared for the first time that the US crackdown was “divisive and wrong”.
But she side-stepped the central issue of whether she had been told about it during her visit to Washington last week.
Corbyn quizzed May on whether she had any prior knowledge of the move, and whether she had objected to it in any way to the new US President or his team.
May replied: “If he’s asking me whether I had advance notice of the ban on refugees, the answer is no. If he’s asking me if I had advanced notice that the executive order could affect British citizens, the answer is no.
“If he’s asking if I had advanced notice of the travel restrictions, the answer is we all did, because President Trump said he would do this in his election campaign.”
Her reply that “we all” knew about the planned ban avoided the specific issue of whether she had been told about it by Trump or his aides.
When pushed further after PMQs, Downing Street refused to elaborate on what exactly the PM had been made aware of in the White House.
The PM has faced intense criticism for refusing to condemn the Trump ban since it was announced on Friday, just hours after she flew out of Washington.
On Saturday, after initially refusing to answer, she said only that the issue was a matter “for the United States”.
But as the UK and global backlash grew, within hours Downing Street changed tack to criticise the plans. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd have both come out strongly.
In Prime Minister’s Questions, May herself made her most critical remarks yet.
“This government is clear that that 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,” she said.
Corbyn used all six of his questions at PMQs to press the Tory leader over President Trump, after she insisted that a state visit from the billionaire reality TV star would go ahead later this year.
More than 1.8 million people have signed a petition calling for the event to be cancelled and protests took place across the UK on Monday evening.
The Labour leader said it was the Government’s “responsibility” to defend the 1951 convention to accept refugees without regard to their race, religion or country of origin.