Leader comment: Theresa May has a duty to the world to speak out

Theresa May should have said that Britain is using every diplomatic avenue possible to try to persuade Donald Trump to change his mind.
Theresa May should have said that Britain is using every diplomatic avenue possible to try to persuade Donald Trump to change his mind.
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There is no doubt at all that Theresa May is not performing well.

First, she was unable to give a straight answer when asked about Trident’s misfire on the Andrew Marr Show.

After that, we had her reluctance to publicly disagree with Donald Trump’s executive order to ban travellers holding passports from a list of seven countries including Iraq, Iran and Syria.

This is despite, it seems, that she knew about it in advance – since her visit to the White House last week.

Indeed, Ms May, despite her long-held experience in the public eye, appears to be someone who does not think on her feet.

We are now in a situation where one million British people have signed a petition calling for the state visit by President Trump to be cancelled.

We have got growing doubt over whether Britons who have dual nationality are going to be able to enter the US. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson insists there will be no problem – but that is conflicting with messages we are getting from across the Atlantic.

Yesterday, people turned out across the UK to stand in solidarity with those – like Scottish veterinary student Hamaseh Tayari, who lives in Glasgow and grew up in Italy but holds an Iranian passport – who were left stranded as what appeared to be a straightforward trip via the US, left her locked out.

Yet while the country is protesting Trump’s decision and calling on the UK government to act, Ms May has issued a statement merely saying that she is “looking forward” to the president’s visit to London – she would have been better off to say nothing.

However, what she actually should have said, is that Britain is using every diplomatic avenue possible to try to persuade Persident Trump to change his mind on his, quite frankly, crazy decision.

Of course, we do not know what is happening behind the scenes. Perhaps Ms May is doing so. Perhaps her advisers are currently lobbying President Trump’s advisers. We can not and do not know.

But in public, to the British people who are urging her to speak out, Ms May does not appear to be taking any action at all.

And refusing to dispute his order seems futile – there can be nothing good that come of it: it is merely flimflam designed to persuade some voters that he is doing what he promised he would do in the run-up to the election.

In practical terms, banning travellers from these countries will not make America safe against terrorist. Potentially, it could do quite the opposite.

We are becoming an increasingly divided world. What happened yesterday in Quebec shows that, if such divisions can happen in Canada, which has a reputation for tolerance, the divisions are potentially even deeper than we thought.

World leaders, especially those in a “special relationship” with America as the UK is, needs to stand up and speak up and urge Trump to think more sensibly.

It is their basic duty to do so.