Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday 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 parliament after being pressed by opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“We believe it is divisive and wrong,” she said, speaking to MPs for the first time since the travel ban came into force on Friday — the same day she met Trump at the White House.
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.
May said 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.”
The ban sparked global mass protests and was swiftly condemned by the United Nations and countries including Germany and France.
But May initially failed to condemn the measure, saying the US was responsible for its own refugee policy.
She then issued a statement saying she did “not agree” with it.
A petition demanding that Britain withdraw an invitation for Trump to make a state visit has garnered 1.8 million signatures.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, on a visit to Lisbon on Wednesday, described the US ban as “arbitrary and brutal”.
European leaders are also concerned about Trump’s virulent criticism of NATO — he has dubbed the transatlantic military alliance “obsolete” — at a time when it stands as the main defence against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We should organise as soon as possible a NATO summit in Brussels with new US President Donald Trump so European leaders can have contact with him,” said Reynders.
The United States provides significant funding to NATO, and Trump has urged other member nations to step up their contributions.
“Europe has an increased responsibility to preserve transatlantic ties. The international order depends greatly on the alliance between Atlantic democracies,” Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva added.