The National Trust said sponsors Cadbury chose the name of the annual event

Theresa May has criticised the National Trust after the word ‘Easter’ was dropped from its annual egg hunt. The Prime Minister called the decision “absolutely ridiculous”.

Cadbury, which sponsors the annual event that takes place at National Trust properties across Britain, said it had taken the decision to drop the word ‘Easter’ from the egg hunt title for the first time in a decade in order to appeal to “people from all faiths and none”.

Speaking in Saudi Arabia where she is on a trade visit, May, an Anglican, said Easter was “very important” to her and she didn’t know what the National Trust “are thinking”.

“I’m not just a vicar’s daughter – I’m a member of the National Trust as well. I think the stance they’ve taken is absolutely ridiculous and I don’t know what they’re thinking about,” she told ITV News.

“Easter’s very important. It’s important to me, it’s a very important festival for the Christian faith for millions across the world. So I think what the National Trust is doing is frankly just ridiculous.”

The National Trust said it was “in no way downplaying the significance of Easter” and that Cadbury “are responsible for the branding and wording of our egg hunt campaign.”

A spokesman for Cadbury said: “Each year, our Easter campaigns have a different name and this year our seasonal campaign is called the ‘Cadbury’s Great British Egg Hunt’.

“It is clear to see that within our communications and marketing we clearly state the word Easter and include it in a number of promotional materials, including our website, where we do also promote our partnership with National Trust at this seasonal time of year. We invite people from all faiths and none to enjoy our seasonal treats, which can be found around Easter time.”

A Catholic Labour MP has described the Prime Minister’s criticism of the National Trust as “faux outrage”.

Conor McGinn, the MP for St Helens North, wrote on Twitter that “this nonsense Easter eggs story does more to devalue the place of Christianity in modern Britain than any ‘PC brigade'”. He added that “Jesus wouldn’t care”.

Sarah Teather, Country Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service and former Liberal Democrat MP, shared the Prime Minister’s statement on Facebook and wrote: “While on a trip to promote arms sales to a country that engages in torture, Theresa May criticises the National Trust’s Easter egg hunt for dropping references to Christianity. What a disincarnate vision of the faith she seems to have: all about English tradition and labels, but no respect for human lives.”

A spokesman for the Church of England said Cadbury and the National Trust were “airbrushing faith”, while the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said that calling the event the Cadbury Egg Hunt was like “spitting on the grave” of the company’s Christian founder, John Cadbury.