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British prime minister Theresa May has come under fire for apparently trying to shift the blame for inviting Donald Trump to meet the Queen.
In less than 24 hours almost a million and a half people have signed an official petition to the government saying Mr Trump “should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen”.
It adds: “Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales”.
Because the petition won more than 100,000 signatures, it is required to be debated by parliament.
Mrs May passed on the invitation to the president during last Friday’s visit to the White House, with the aim of renewing the ‘special relationship’ between the two countries.
It is the first time a president has been promised a state visit in their first year of office.
However it was quickly followed by the president’s controversial executive order banning entry to the US for Syrian refugees and nationals from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen.
Mrs May was criticised for hesitating to condemn the order when she heard about it on Friday – though the government later clarified that it disagreed with the measures.
On Monday morning Number Ten briefed journalists that president Trump’s visit was the recommendation of a “state visit committee” at the Foreign Office.
However it was swiftly pointed out, by the press and political opponents, that a senior No 10 official sits on the committee, and the Queen would not issue an invitation against the advice of the prime minister.
Downing Street later issued another statement in clarification, saying “the prime minister extended an invitation on behalf of the Queen – and she was very happy to do so… we look forward to hosting the president later this year”.
A spokesman said “at no stage did we seek to blame the Foreign Office for the decision, or seek to distance Number 10 from it”.
Confusion also reigned over whether the president’s executive order would affect British dual citizens.
The US embassy issued two different pieces of advice over the course of Monday.
In the morning, its website advised dual nationals of the UK and the nations affected by the ban not to schedule a visa appointment or pay any visa fees – and not to attend an appointment for a visa interview if one had been scheduled.
However later in the day this advice was taken down, and then replaced by an announcement that “dual nationals of the UK and one of the (banned) countries are exempt from the executive order when travelling on a valid UK passport and US visa”.
It was not clear if new visas would be issued.
Crowds gathered outside Downing Street, and in other cities across the UK, on Monday evening to protest against president Trump.
The story Petition rejecting Trump state visit to the United Kingdom gains more than a million signatures first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.