Trump State Visit To U.K. Delayed in Bid to Quell Protests
The president is still coming, but the plan for a June visit is being quietly shelved amid fears of huge protests.
Donald Trump has reportedly suggested to the British authorities that a proposed state visit to the U.K. in June be postponed in the hope that virulent opposition to him will fade.
British officials are said to be considering October as the new date because its parliament will be in recess, and it would be harder for British lawmakers to snub Trump by staging protests or boycotts in the Houses of Parliament.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the delay is said to have been suggested by Trump during a phone call to British Prime Minister Theresa May last month.
A senior Whitehall source told the Mail: “The Americans have asked to push it back. They don’t want what will be one of his first big foreign trips to be overshadowed.”
A spokesperson in the prime minister’s office told The Daily Beast that no formal announcement on the timing or shape of Trump’s visit had been released yet.
When President George W. Bush traveled to London for a state visit in 2003—months after the invasion of Iraq—he was greeted by more than 100,000 angry protesters.
Trump was asked to visit by Prime Minister May, who issued a hasty invitation just days after he became president.
A petition calling for the visit to be canceled in the wake of the failed Trump travel ban was signed by 1.8 million people and the issue was debated in parliament.
A rival petition calling for Trump to be granted a state visit was signed by more than 300,000 people.
Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan told parliament it was “entirely right” to extend a hand to Trump. “In the light of America’s absolutely pivotal role, we believe it entirely right that we should use all the tools at our disposal to build common ground with President Trump.”
There is a long history of Britain inviting unpalatable and even genocidal leaders on state visits, including Zimbabwean tyrant Robert Mugabe, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Japan’s wartime leader Emperor Hirohito.
The Mail adds that officials are also considering having Trump spend as little as one day in London before packing him off to Scotland to stay with the queen at her Highland retreat Balmoral for the remainder of the trip.
The plan is likely to enrage Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has been a leading voice calling for Trump’s state visit to be canceled in retaliation for what she called his “deeply wrong” travel ban.