Conservative leadership hopeful Sajid Javid has revealed he does not know why he was not invited to the state dinner with US President Donald Trump earlier this month.
The home secretary described it as “odd” that he was not asked to attend the Buckingham Palace banquet, which was attended by other cabinet ministers such as Chancellor Philip Hammond and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Mr Javid suggested his office had asked Downing Street for an invite, but had been turned down.
A Downing Street source told Sky News they can “definitively rule out” that Mr Javid’s non-attendance was anything to do with his Muslim background, or his previous criticism of Mr Trump.
In 2017, after Mr Trump promoted Twitter posts by far-right group Britain First, Mr Javid tweeted: “So POTUS has endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me.
“He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing.”
Asked by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme why he was not invited to the Buckingham Palace dinner with Mr Trump, Mr Javid said: “I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve asked but I’ve just been told normally home secretaries aren’t invited so, I don’t know.”
After his tweet criticising Mr Trump was quoted back to him, Mr Javid was asked how he felt about not being invited.
“I don’t like it. I think for the reason that you’ve just said, it is odd,” he added.
“My office did ask Number 10 and they said ‘no’, so you’d have to ask someone from Number 10 why they made that decision.”
So POTUS has endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) November 29, 2017
But the home secretary insisted he is “not saying” his Muslim background was behind the decision not to invite him.
Tory MP Julian Knight claimed there would be “no excuses” if Mr Javid had been “snubbed” over the state banquet.
He called for a “full public statement” and “timeline explanation” to be issued.
On the eve of his visit to the UK earlier this month, Mr Trump branded London mayor Sadiq Khan – a critic of the US president – a “stone cold loser”.
Mr Trump added Mr Khan, a practising Muslim, has “done a terrible job as mayor of London, has been foolishly ‘nasty’ to the visiting President of the United States”.
Mr Javid officially launched his campaign for the Conservative Party leadership on Wednesday as he called for a “new kind of leadership and a new kind of leader”.
However, he faces an uphill battle in his bid to be prime minister, with only 19 Tory MPs having so far publicly declared their support for him.