The Guardian newspaper is reporting that President Donald Trump called British Prime Minister Theresa May, telling her that he did not wish to go through with his scheduled visit later this year if it meant there would be large-scale protests against him.
The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.
The call was made in recent weeks, according to a Downing Street adviser who was in the room.
The statement surprised May, according to those present.
The conversation in part explains why there has been little public discussion about a visit.
May invited Trump to Britain seven days after his inauguration when she became the first foreign leader to visit him in the White House. She told a joint press conference she had extended an invitation from the Queen to Trump and his wife Melania to make a state visit later in the year and was “delighted that the president has accepted that invitation”.
Many senior diplomats, including Lord Ricketts, the former national security adviser, said the invitation was premature, but impossible to rescind once made.
Now Reuters is reporting that the Prime Minister’s Office is denying that the U.S. president had cancelled his state visit.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said on Sunday there had been no change to plans for U.S. President Donald Trump’s to come to Britain on a state visit, after the Guardian newspaper reported the trip had been postponed.
The paper, citing an unnamed adviser at May’s Downing Street office who was in the room at the time, reported Trump had told May by telephone in recent weeks that he did not want to come if there were likely to be large-scale protests.
“We aren’t going to comment on speculation about the contents of private phone conversations,” a spokeswoman for May’s office said. “The queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the UK and there is no change to those plans.”
The White House had no immediate comment on the report.
No date has been set for the visit, which was agreed during May’s visit to Washington in January, but British media had reported it was planned for October.
Trump has come under fire in Britain this month for his public criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s response to an attack by Islamist militants in London, in which eight people were killed. May found herself forced to defend Khan, who is from the opposition Labour party.
Only those who haven’t a clue what Trump is all about would try to push a story where Trump backed out of a trip because of possible protests. That’s absurd on its face.
But it reveals the agenda of anti-Trumpers in the Prime Minister’s Office. That the story would drop now with May’s vastly weakened position following the disastrous election results last Thursday is significant. It’s a possibility that May loyalists concocted the story hoping for a wave of favorable media coverage that would improve her precarious position. That sort of thinking is delusional at this point, as May appears to be a gone goose — probably sooner rather than later.
If the trip won’t take place until October, it is a virtual certainty that Trump won’t be meeting Theresa May. But who might occupy the post of prime minister at that time? Foreign Minister Boris Johnson is a definite possibility, although the former mayor of London has his own controversies to worry about.
Johnson has exhibited a mixed attitude toward Trump, not exactly defending the U.S. president but also taking Britons to task for their Trump-Nazi comparisons. And he called for an end to the “collective whinge-o-rama” that followed Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Johnson sounds like someone Trump can work with, although don’t tell that to the “whinge-nuts” in Great Britain.