The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has criticised Downing Street’s decision not to invite him to Donald Trump’s state banquet as “odd” but stopped short of claiming No 10 blocked his attendance because of his Muslim background.
In his first comments on the snub Javid said he had written to the prime minister’s office asking why he was not invited to the banquet and suggested he was unconvinced by the answer he was given.
Javid was asked by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme why he was not invited to the banquet on the eve of the first day of Trump’s state visit. He said: “I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve asked but I haven’t got a … I was just told that normally home secretaries aren’t invited so I don’t know.”
Asked how he felt about not being asked to attend when other more junior members of the cabinet, including Michael Gove and Penny Mordaunt were invited, Javid said: “I don’t like it. For the reason that you have just said. It is odd.”
He added: “My office did ask No 10 and they said ‘no’. So you’d have to ask someone from No 10 why they made that decision.”
Asked if the snub was linked to his Muslim background. Javid said: “No I’m not saying that at all. I really don’t know. I haven’t got an … I’ve just been told that normally an invite doesn’t always go to a home secretary.”
Javid, was one of several UK politicians who criticised Trump in 2017 when he retweeted videos from the far-right group Britain First. Writing on Twitter Javid, who was then communities secretary, accused Trump of endorsing the views of “a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me”. He added: “He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing.”
Earlier this month, the Muslim Council of Britain wrote to Theresa May asking her if Javid was not invited to the state banquet with Donald Trump because he is of Muslim heritage.
The letter by Harun Khan, the council’s secretary general, said: “There are fears that our nation is willing to give up on our principles of fairness and equality for all, in order to placate President Trump, even going so far as to exclude our home secretary solely due to his Muslim heritage.”
It cited Trump’s Muslim travel ban, his retweeting of posts from Britain First and his criticism of the London mayor, Sadiq Khan.
“We are all aware of the Islamophobia that President Trump has propagated and tolerated at the highest levels of his administration, both in rhetoric and policy,” it said.
No 10 has yet to clarify why Javid was not invited.