In a scandal reminiscent of a simpler time, the seating at a royal banquet could have dramatic political ramifications for British politics.
The apparent snub of Sajid Javid, the UK’s Home Secretary, during President Trump’s recent visit to the United Kingdom, has sent ripples across British politics.
The office of outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has faced repeated calls this last week that it disclose why Sajid Javid, the British home secretary, was the only senior British cabinet minister not invited to attend a formal state dinner during President Donald Trump’s trip to the United Kingdom in early June.
Lord Blunkett, who served as Home Secretary from 2001-2003 under Prime Minister Tony Blair attended a state dinner between Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush and was surprised Javid was not invited to the Trump dinner. Jacqui Smith, the first woman to hold the role weighed in on social media saying she had been invited to all state dinners during her time in office.
Javid has a higher profile than many previous home secretaries. He is the first person of Muslim heritage to hold the post and is the son of Pakistani immigrants to the United Kingdom; but, he is also a candidate to replace Theresa May as the next British Prime Minister.
Asked if the reason was the fact that he was Muslim, Javid made clear his views “I am not saying that at all. I really don’t know,” Javid told the media outlet Radio Four.
The Muslim Council of Britain has written to the prime minister’s office asking for clarification on why Javid was not invited.
In a 2017 Tweet, Javid criticized Trump’s support of the far-right British First group describing it as “ a vile, hate-filled racist organization that hates me and people like me.”
Eight other ministers from defense to environmental affairs attended the dinner.
Javid eventually did meet with President Trump briefly in Portsmouth during an event linked to the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion – a multilateral military operation which played a key role in defeating Nazi Germany during world World War II.
President Trump received a snub of his own when he failed to secure a meeting with pro-Brexit MP Boris Johnson who declined to meet him during his visit – though the two did speak over the phone.
Boris Johnson described then-candidate Trump as having “quite stupefying ignorance” in 2015, a criticism which was projected onto London’s historic Big Ben during Trump’s visit.
As he often has in his short political career, President Trump has looked past the sharp early criticism. Trump thinks very highly of the British parliamentarian who he has come close to endorsing as his preferred pick for the Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson first rose to prominence as the Mayor of London; but, the current holder of that office, Sadiq Khan, is an outspoken opponent of Trump, and the antagonism between the two is mutual, having traded barbs on Twitter.
Trump has yet to comment on Twitter or elsewhere on Javid’s dinner snub nor has Prime Minister Theresa May.
Johnson is considered the favourite to be the next British Prime Minister after an early ballot victory this past week.
Boris Johnson received 114 votes in a first-round ballot held by the Tories this past week. He emerged victorious among a crowded field of ten conservative candidates. Javid who announced his campaign only on Wednesday finished fifth in the same poll with 23. He remains a top contender in part because Andrea Leadsom, a parliamentarian who received 11 votes — the most votes of the three eliminated candidates, has pledged to support his campaign. His supporters point to the fact that his poor early showing could be due to his late entry with Javid announcing his historic campaign only on Wednesday.
After further balloting, the winner of the race will be announced in late July.