White House denies report Trump will delay state visit to UK
WASHINGTON — The White House has denied a report that US President Donald Trump plans to delay his state visit to the United Kingdom over fears of potential protests and his perceived unpopularity.
According to a report by the Guardian on Sunday, Trump revealed his unease during a conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May in recent weeks, according to a Downing Street adviser who was in the room.
But a senior Trump administration source denied that the subject ever came up when Trump and May spoke on Friday in the aftermath of the British general election.
“The President has tremendous respect for Prime Minister May. That subject never came up on the call,” the official told CNN.
A second senior US administration official also dismissed the Guardian report, acknowledging that Trump may never be popular in London and isn’t fazed by that.
No official date was ever set for the visit. A Downing Street spokesman refused to comment on what he called “speculation about the contents of private phone conversation.”
“The Queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the UK and there is no change to those plans,” the spokesman added.
May extended the invite to Trump on behalf of the Queen just a week after his inauguration, a move that was heavily criticized in the UK.
Trump has become increasingly unpopular in Britain in recent days. His vociferous Twitter attack on London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the wake of the London Bridge terrorist attack last weekend drew condemnation from across the British political spectrum. Khan then called on the British government to cancel Trump’s visit.
On Sunday, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn voiced his support for canceling Trump’s trip.
Corbyn tweeted: “Cancellation of President Trump’s State Visit is welcome, especially after his attack on London’s mayor & withdrawal from #ParisClimateDeal.”
The arrival of Trump in Britain anytime soon is unlikely to be welcomed by May, who is fighting for her political life following a disastrous general election Thursday that wiped out her party’s majority in Parliament and prompted calls for her to resign.
In February this year, the British government formally rejected an online petition calling for Trump’s state visit to the UK to be canceled or downgraded. The petition had garnered more than 1.8 million signatures.