×

Trump travel ban reverberates as British PM May meets Irish counterpart Kenny

British Prime Minister Theresa May's meeting to discuss Brexit with her Irish counterpart, Enda Kenny, on Monday had its spotlight squarely stolen by the mounting global reaction against U.S. President Donald Trump's order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

During the press conference immediately following the bilateral meeting, Irish Prime Minister Kenny delivered a considerably cleaner refutation of the newly installed U.S. government's highly controversial travel policy than did the U.K.'s May.

However, both leaders emphasized that the will of democratic Americans had to be respected at this time.

"Whatever you think of the American President, this is a man who's elected now by votes of the American people, who is now implementing what he said he would do for the last two years," Kenny said to reporters.

"I don't agree with this particular policy and I will give my reasons for that when I talk to him but in respect of our own connections with the United States, I think it's important to keep that contact very much alive, more so now than ever before," he added.

May continued to tiptoe around growing calls from her citizens to provide an outright criticism of the policy, instead restricting her commentary to indirect observations about variations in style between her country and the U.S.

"The U.K. takes a different approach. I was home secretary for six years and at no stage did I introduce those sort of arrangements. So obviously President Trump has been elected by the people of the United States, as the Taoiseach said he is now moving to put into place what he had said that he would do but we have a different approach to these matters in the U.K."

This message came as calls continued to grow for May to rescind the state visit invitation she had extended on behalf of the royal family to Trump during her visit to Washington D.C. last week.

Over a million U.K. signatures have now been secured for a petition calling for the revocation of the invitation while thousands took to the streets in like-minded protests in several cities across the U.K.

Yet, May stood firm.

"The United States is a close ally of the United Kingdom. We work together across many areas of mutual interest and we have that special relationship between us," she said.

"I have issued that invitation for a state visit for President Trump to the United Kingdom and that invitation stands," May said.

Only one question at the Dublin press conference addressed Britain's impending exit from the EU, which had been the sole item on the agenda for her brief trip to Irish capital city.

A strong argument can be made that after the U.K., Ireland is the country with the most potentially at risk from a political, economic and social perspective, with regards to the former's impending exit from the EU.

Therefore, the lack of interest in the story at today's press conference in Dublin must be highly disappointing to May as she travels the world seeking to drum up enthusiasm for countries to engage with a post-Brexit U.K.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.