Downing Street has dismissed claims that Sajid Javid was excluded from the state banquet for Donald Trump because of his Muslim background.
The Home Secretary said he had yet to receive a proper explanation as to why he was not on the guest list for the formal dinner at Buckingham Palace during last week’s state visit by the US president.
His comments, during a BBC radio interview, prompted former Tory Party chairman Baroness Farsi to suggest his absence was linked to his Muslim heritage.
“To use my own phrase from 2011 ‘Islamophobia has passed the dinner table test’,” she tweeted.
That prompted a sharp denial from No 10, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman saying: “Categorically untrue.”
He added: “The Prime Minister is proud to have appointed Sajid Javid as the country’s first Muslim Home Secretary.”
In an interview with the Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Javid made clear he was unhappy with the explanation he had received for not being invited to the banquet.
“I don’t know. I have asked. I was just told that normally home secretaries aren’t invited. So I don’t know,” he said.
“I don’t like it. It is odd. My office did ask No 10 and they said ‘no’. You’d have to ask someone from No 10 why they made that decision.”
Mr Javid has previously criticised Mr Trump after he tweeted his support for the right-wing Britain First group.
He responded that the president was endorsing the views of “a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me”.
Asked if he thought his exclusion was due to his Muslim background, Mr Javid said: “I am not saying that at all. I really don’t know.”
A Downing Street source insisted the row with the president was “categorically not a factor”.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said that there had only been a limited number of places available for ministers to attend.
“This was a state banquet hosted by Her Majesty the Queen so I don’t think it is appropriate to discuss in public who did or did not ask to attend,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
“As with any state banquet only a limited number of places are available to the Government.
“A large number of ministers who expressed a wish to attend were not able to do so.”
In all, eight ministers including Theresa May were present: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Americas Minister Sir Alan Duncan.
It was being made clear at Westminster that there is a fixed list of ministers who are automatically invited to state banquets, which includes the prime minister, the chancellor, the foreign secretary and the leader of House of Lords, but not the home secretary.
The then home secretary Amber Rudd did attend the 2017 state banquet for the King and Queen of Spain, but the home secretary of the day was not present at banquets for other recent state visits.
Mrs May, when she was home secretary, did not attend the 2011 state banquet for President Barack Obama.