1 February 2017
It was not supposed to be like this. The broad grin on Theresa May’s face as she strode around the White House hand-in-hand with Donald Trump betrayed the delight the British prime minister clearly felt at being the first foreign leader to be invited to an audience with the new American president. The message from Downing Street was that May’s visit symbolised the UK’s commitment to the much-fabled “special relationship” with the United States. To top it all, an invitation for an official state visit to the UK was very publicly extended to Trump, and accepted.

Fast-forward a few days and May is under increasingly intense political pressure to distance the British government from the Trump administration. Before May’s plane had even left American soil, Donald Trump had signed an executive order banning citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, and placing a blanket ban on granting asylum to refugees.

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