Theresa May savaged for silence on Trump refugee ban

Updated: 

Theresa May has arrived back in Britain to a storm of fury over her refusal to condemn Donald Trump's widely-criticised ban on refugees entering the United States.

Conservative MPs joined the attacks on the Prime Minister after she refused to speak out about the controversial move and one Tory said he would be hit by the ban.

Labour said it should "sadden" the country that Mrs May had failed to condemn the president's actions and the Liberal Democrats said her behaviour was "shocking".

Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, who is of Iraqi origin but a British citizen, said a US immigration lawyer had confirmed that he would be affected by the ban.

"A sad sad day to feel like a second-class citizen," he said. "Sad day for the USA.

"Had confirmation that the order does apply to myself and my wife as we were both born in Iraq. Even if we are not dual Nat.

"I'm a British citizen and so proud to have been welcomed to this country. Sad to hear ill be banned from the USA based on my country of birth."

Tory MP Heidi Allen rounded on Mrs May for the way she had handled the situation.

She said on Twitter: "Strong leadership means not being afraid to tell someone powerful when they're wrong. It's an ethos this country is proud of @theresa_may.

"I don't care how special the relationship is, some lines just shouldn't be crossed."

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said the ban was "both wrong in itself and very worrying for the future".

Mrs May was pressed repeatedly about her views on the refugee ban during a press conference in Ankara where she had been holding talks with Turkish leaders.

After initially dodging questions about her views on the controversial move, the Prime Minister then insisted it was up to America to devise its own policy.

She told reporters: "The United States is responsible for the United States' policy on refugees.

"The United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom's policy on refugees and our policy on refugees is to have a number of voluntary schemes to bring Syrian refugees into the country, particularly those who are most vulnerable, but also to provide significant financial contributions to support refugees in countries surrounding Syria."

As Mrs May declined to attack the ban, her counterpart in Turkey, a country with a dismal record on human rights, was more forthcoming.

Prime minister Binali Yildirim said: "You cannot solve this issue of refugees by putting up walls.

"You have to eradicate the root causes of this. You have to eradicate the regional discrepancies in terms of development."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "President Trump's executive order against refugees and Muslims should shock and appal us all.

"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.

"After Trump's hideous actions and May's weak failure to condemn them, it's more important than ever for us to say to refugees seeking a place of safety, that they will always be welcome in Britain."

The US president has barred all refugees from entering the US for four months but blocked those from war-ravaged Syria indefinitely as part of a plan to stop "radical Islamic terrorists".

A 90-day ban on entry to the US from seven Muslim-majority nations has been imposed.

Speaking in the White House, Mr Trump said the ban was "working out very nicely".

He said: "It's not a Muslim ban but we were totally prepared. It's working out very nicely.

"You see it at the airports, you see it all over, it's working out very nicely, and we are going to have a very, very strict ban and we are going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Mrs May's behaviour was "shocking".

He said: "Not only is this shocking even by her standards, it cannot be allowed to stand. The president's actions have horrified the world, and this is a moment when she has to show what side she is on."

"At the press conference she contrived to make the Turkish government look liberal," he added.

"They said it was wrong to build walls. Rather than fighting to build a world that is open, tolerant and united, Theresa May is dividing the world in a very dangerous way."

Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau said his country welcomed "those fleeing persecution, terror and war", regardless of their faith.

Tory MP Sarah Wollaston said Mr Trump must not be invited to address both houses of Parliament from Westminster Hall on his state visit later this, pointedly insisting "those who wish to fawn over him" should do so elsewhere.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at New York's John F Kennedy Airport to show their anger at Mr Trump's ban on refugees entering the United States.

Demonstrators held placards with slogans such as "no hate, no fear", and shouted chants exhorting "no borders, no nations, no racist deportations". 

Twelve refugees were detained at the airport on Saturday.