Scottish Tories go silent over Theresa May’s prior knowledge of Trump refugee ban

UK Prime Minister Theresa May had prior knowledge that Donald Trump was about to ban refugee from the US by executive order

THE SCOTTISH CONSERVATIVES are maintaining a strict silence after revelations that UK Prime Minister Theresa May was informed of a refugee ban when she visited US President Donald J Trump.

The Tory leader later evaded questions about the ‘Muslim ban’ while in Turkey, despite being informed of the clampdown of refugees by executive order when she visited the US last week.

It is not known whether May was informed that the scheme would specifically exclude people entering the US from seven Muslim-majority nations.

The silence comes at a sensitive time for the Conservatives, who are resting hopes for hard Brexit on the UK’s ability to establish strong ties with non-EU trading partners.

Though May later distanced herself from the policy, and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said she was “hugely concerned” by the ban, the Scottish party has sought to avoid recognition of the prime minister’s prior knowledge of it.

CommonSpace contacted both the Scottish party’s press office and the office of former deputy party leader and current finance spokesperson Murdo Fraser MSP, who earlier hailed May’s trip as a “triumph”, regarding May’s knowing of the ban before it came into effect. No comment has been received.

The vow of silence comes at a sensitive time for the Conservatives, who are resting hopes for hard Brexit on the UK’s ability to establish strong ties with non-EU trading partners, including the US and Trump’s hard right administration.

Speaking to CommonSpace about the Conservatives’ reluctance to comment, civil rights activist and founder of Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) Richard Hayley warned that without transparency there was a danger of “lurches” into the “chaos” of supporting Trump.

Scottish Conservatives finance spokesperson hails May visit with Trump a “triumph”

He said: “It's to be hoped that Scottish Conservatives will join with Tory critics of May's tactics at Westminster, obtain an explanation for what has happened and assurances that there will be no more lurches into the unknown.

“It will surprise no one to find that May isn't a friend of immigrants and refugees. But she is supposed to be a serious politician and a 'safe pair or hands' to steer the Tories through their Brexit crisis. It should shock us all that she has bought so casually into the chaos of the Trump regime.”

Hayley said the Muslim ban was “a body blow to the established international approach to the refugee crisis.”

May’s further trips to secure close trading and diplomatic ties have included the authoritarian regimes of Recep Erdogan in Turkey and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

The Scottish Conservatives have sought to distance themselves from the spectacle of the UK’s increasingly close relationship with the Trump administration, which is enacting some of the most radically right-wing policies in modern US history. However, the party’s defence of Hard Brexit in defiance of the Scottish Parliament and popular opinion means it cannot attack the new diplomatic efforts.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell, the Scottish Conservative’s lone MP, has said that his role is to represent the interests of the UK Government, rather than representing Scotland in the cabinet.

May’s further trips to secure close trading and diplomatic ties have included the authoritarian regimes of Recep Erdogan in Turkey and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

CommonSpace was offered comment by the Scottish Conservatives press office, but none materialised.

Picture courtesy of Karl-Ludwig Poggemann

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