Sajid Javid says Downing Street rejected request to attend Trump state banquet

Home secretary says it was ‘odd’ not to be invited to the dinner

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Thursday 13 June 2019 19:30
Comments
'I don't like it' Sajid Javid says it's 'odd' he was snubbed from Trump state banquet

Sajid Javid has said Downing Street rejected a request from his office to attend the lavish state banquet for Donald Trump at Buckingham Palace.

The home secretary, who is the son of Pakistani Muslim parents, expressed his frustration at being the only holder of a great office of state – which include prime minister, foreign secretary, home secretary and chancellor – who was not invited to the dinner hosted by the Queen.

His omission from the guest list raised eyebrows at the time, as several cabinet ministers such as Michael Gove, the environment secretary and Penny Mordaunt, the defence secretary, were present.

Asked why he was not invited, Mr Javid told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t know. I’ve asked but I was just told that normally home secretaries aren’t invited so I don’t know.”

Pressed on how he felt at the snub, Mr Javid said: “I don’t like it for the reason you just said. It is odd. My office did ask No 10 and they said no, so you would have to ask No 10 why they made that decision.”

The Tory leadership hopeful disagreed with suggestions that he was missed off the list due to his Muslim background, saying: “No, I am not saying that at all. I really don’t know.”

Mr Javid did meet the American president during the D-Day commemorations in Portsmouth on the final day of his visit.

Plenty of senior politicians attended the opulent dinner earlier this month, including Theresa May and her husband Philip, the de facto deputy PM David Lidington, Philip Hammond, the chancellor, and the international trade secretary Liam Fox.

Mr Javid’s snub may have been linked to his criticism of the US president for endorsing the views of far-right organisation Britain First in 2017.

The guest list for the state banquet was determined by Buckingham Palace, with input from the government and also from the American embassy.

Following comments by former Tory chair Sayeeda Warsi, Downing Street denied that the absence of an invitation for Mr Javid amounted to a snub and it was “categorically untrue” that his Muslim roots had any bearing on the decision.

Baroness Warsi, who was the first Muslim cabinet minister, said: “Worrying if foreign countries start telling us who is and isn’t acceptable based on origins and background.”

Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “As with any state banquet, only a limited amount of places are available to the government.

“A large number of ministers who requested to attend were not able to do so.”

The spokesman added: “The prime minister is proud to have appointed Sajid Javid as the country’s first Muslim home secretary.”

There is a fixed list of ministers who are invited to every state banquet, understood to include the prime minister, chancellor and foreign secretary.

The home secretary has attended only one state banquet in the past three years, when Amber Rudd joined guests at the event for the King of Spain. Ms May herself did not attend the banquet for former US president Barack Obama.

It is understood that there were no communications between No 10 and the White House or US embassy about ministers who would be present.

A Downing Street source said that Mr Javid’s tweet about the president was categorically not a factor in the decision on invitations, which are made by Buckingham Palace in consultation with No 10.

It comes as three of the Tory leadership were knocked out of the race on Thursday.

Mr Javid, who launched his campaign on Wednesday, made it through the first ballot but he is among candidates struggling to catch the frontrunner, Boris Johnson.

Despite branding Mr Johnson as “yesterday’s news” during his campaign launch, Mr Javid said he would serve in a cabinet run by the former foreign secretary.

He said: “I said yesterday that we are lucky to have lots of talented candidates and I would serve under any of them if they wanted me, because we will have gone through this exercise, the party will have picked the next leader, and I think it is our duty.”

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