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MPs Just Told Boris Johnson His Response To Trump's Immigration Ban Was "Shameful"

The foreign secretary also refused to say if Theresa May knew about the ban on refugees before Trump announced it.

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Boris Johnson has been criticised by MPs for a "shameful" response to Donald Trump's executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days.

In a statement given to the House of Commons, the foreign secretary said: "We have received assurances from the US embassy that this executive order will make no difference to any British passport-holder irrespective of their country of birth or whether they hold another passport." He added: "This is not UK policy, it is not our policy, nor is it a measure that this government would consider."

This was not enough for many cross-party MPs, who called on him to attack the policy with stronger words.

Johnson provoked further ire after he refused to confirm or deny whether or not Theresa May knew Trump was planning to ban refugees in advance of his announcement.

The claims were made in a blog by the Channel 4 News journalist Gary Gibbon, who reported that the prime minister knew refugees were to be banned in advance. They were put to Johnson by Labour MP Jess Phillips. He refused to confirm or deny them, saying he wouldn't comment on controversial discussions.

"This is not just about the impact on UK citizens," Labour MP Yvette Cooper said. "One of our closest allies has chosen to ban refugees and target Muslims, and all he can say is that 'well, it wouldn’t be our policy'. That is not good enough."

She added: "This order was signed on Holocaust Memorial Day. For the sake of history, for heaven’s sake, have the guts to speak out."

Fellow Labour MP Mike Gapes called May "Theresa the appeaser", in reference to a hashtag that had been trending on social media the previous day. Johnson told the house it was wrong to make comparisons with "the elected leader of a great democracy and 1930s tyrants".

Others used Twitter to vent their frustration and called on the government to take action and cancel Trump's state visit to the UK.

It's shameful. Just shameful. Every hour we don't say it's wrong & won't indulge state visit until stops we indulge… https://t.co/NwViZk3eUW

Over 1.3 million people have signed a petition calling for the American president's trip to be cancelled.

A source in Number 10, however, told the BBC that cancelling the visit, which was arranged during Theresa May's meeting with Trump in the US, would be a "populist gesture".

There then followed hours of confusion over how the visit was planned. Asked about the visit, a Number 10 spokesperson told journalists the event had first been proposed by the committee for state visits, and was then put to Buckingham Palace.

There are, however, no traces of a state visits committee online, and the Foreign Office, which was allegedly in charge of it, could not provide any details on the body.

A few hours later, Number 10 issued a statement saying the prime minister herself had "extended an invitation on behalf of the Queen" and had been "very happy to do so". A Foreign Office source then explained that there was a royal visits committee, but did not expand on the committee's role.

The petition was started after Trump signed an executive order on Friday putting an end to the country's Syrian refugees programme and banning people from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan from entering the US for 90 days. Refugees from countries other than Syria are also not allowed to enter the country for 120 days.

Johnson confirmed later on Monday that any citizen holding a UK passport would not be affected by the ban.

Speaking on the Today programme on Monday morning, Baroness Warsi called the order a "Muslim ban".

"We need to call it what it is, and it is a Muslim ban. Every sign is that it is a Muslim ban, based upon the words of Mr Trump himself, when he called it such in his campaign," the Conservative peer said. "It’s important that we refer to it as what it is."

Writing in the Evening Standard, London mayor Sadiq Khan called the measure "discriminatory and counter-productive", and called on Theresa May to rescind the offer of Trump's state visit "until this ban is lifted".

"We in Britain have an obligation and a responsibility to make crystal clear to President Trump that this ban is a mistake – and to urge him to put it right", Khan concluded.

Iraqi-born Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi and former Labour leader Ed Miliband have called for an emergency debate in the Commons on the ban, and SNP MP Tasmina Sheik has tabled an early-day motion urging the government to fight it.

Other MPs have taken to Twitter to encourage their constituents to sign the petition and show their opposition to Trump's state visit.

We should not be honouring President Trump with a State visit and he certainly should not be invited to address both Houses of Parliament.

A number of MPs, including Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas and SNP MP Mhairi Black, will also be joining a rally against the ban in front of Downing Street this evening.

Marie Le Conte is a politics and media reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Marie Le Conte at marie.leconte@buzzfeed.com.

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