HOME secretary Sajid Javid, one of the candidates to replace Theresa May as prime minister, said today (13) it was odd that he was blocked from attending a royal banquet with US president Donald Trump earlier this month.
In his first comments on being excluded, Javid said he had written to the prime minister’s office asking why he was not invited to the banquet at Buckingham Palace and was unconvinced by the answer.
British Pakistani Javid was the only senior cabinet minister not invited to the event during Trump’s state visit at which guests dined in the palace ballroom with the Queen.
Prime minister Theresa May, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, chancellor Phillip Hammond, environment secretary Michael Gove and defence secretary Penny Mordaunt were among senior Cabinet members who all attended the banquet.
“I don’t like it. It is odd,” Javid told BBC radio when asked why other senior ministers attended but not him.
Javid condemned Trump on Twitter after the president shared videos of the far-right group Britain First in 2017. He said the president had endorsed a “vile hate-filled organisation that hates me and people like me.”
Earlier this month, the Muslim Council of Britain wrote to the prime minister asking her if Javid was not invited to the banquet because of his heritage.
The council cited Trump’s Muslim travel ban, his retweeting of posts from Britain First and his criticism of London mayor Sadiq Khan.
A spokesman for the prime minister said it was “categorically” untrue that Javid did not attend the banquet because of his criticism of Trump.
“A large number of ministers who expressed a wish to attend were not able to do so,” he said.
Javid said he asked Downing Street why he was not invited, but was told that home secretaries were not always invited to such events.
“My office did ask Number 10 (Downing Street) and they said no,” Javid, the first British Asian to hold the job, said.
Asked if he thought it was because of his Muslim background he said: “No. I am not saying that at all. I really don’t know.”
During the two state banquets held during his predecessor Amber Rudd’s tenure as home secretary – with the president of Colombia in November 2016 and the King of Spain in July 2017 – she did receive an invitation and attended.
Jacqui Smith, a former home secretary under a Labour government, said the decision to exclude Javid was strange because she attended every state banquet for visiting leaders.