Boris Johnson faced embarrassment last night after his girlfriend was barred from visiting the United States.
Carrie Symonds, 31, applied for a visa to go to America in the next few days as part of her job with a US-based environmental group, but the American authorities have blocked the request.
It is believed the decision stems from a five-day visit made last year by Miss Symonds to East Africa, a region riven by civil war.
The Prime Minister’s girlfriend went with her friend Nimco Ali, a campaigner against female genital mutilation, who was born in Somaliland.
During their trip, they met the self-declared Somaliland president Muse Bihi Abdi to discuss women’s issues and sea pollution.
The UK is among a handful of nations who have diplomatic relations with Somaliland, which broke away from neighbouring Somalia in 1991.
But crucially, the US – which backs Somalia – does not.
It is uncertain whether Miss Symonds applied for a US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta).
If she did, she would have been scuppered by her travel history.
An Esta is an automated system which decides whether tourists can enter the country for 90 days without a visa, providing they do not pose a security risk.
In 2016, a question was added to the Esta form, asking: ‘Have you travelled to, or been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011?’
Answering ‘yes’ to this question will see an Esta application refused outright.
Miss Symonds had hoped to visit the United States instead of travelling with Mr Johnson to this weekend’s G7 summit of the world’s major economic powers in the French seaside city of Biarritz.
She has a series of meetings in America as part of her job as an adviser for Oceana, a non-profit organisation that seeks to protect the world’s oceans.
Miss Symonds now faces a race against time to get the ban lifted. Efforts to resolve the matter quickly have been made more difficult because she cannot – officially – ask Downing Street to intervene on her behalf.