Left Wing 1 Great Britain 0 : President pulls out of £750m embassy opening amid fears he won't b
US President was expected to make his first trip to the UK since entering office
But Government officials have been told the president has gone cold on the idea
No new date has been offered, raising the prospect of a major diplomatic snub
Suggestions he cancelled because he was unhappy about scale of the visit
Donald Trump has scrapped plans to visit Britain next month, the Mail understands.
The US President was expected to make his first trip to the UK since entering office, but Government officials have been told he has gone cold on the idea.
No new date has been offered, raising the prospect of a major diplomatic snub. One senior source suggested Mr Trump – who was expected to officially open the new US embassy in London – cancelled because he was unhappy about the arrangements and the scale of the visit.
The reversal comes despite Mr Trump telling Theresa May last month that he would come. to Britain in the New Year. Preparations were advanced for a ‘working’ visit to officially open the embassy, but the Mail understands this role will now be performed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.Mr Trump was also scheduled to hold talks with Mrs May in No 10, with February 26 and 27 marked in the diary. Downing Street had hoped to confirm the dates this week.The President was not due to meet the Queen until a full state visit at a later date, and a second source said the lack of ‘bells and whistles’ and royal involvement next month visit may have discouraged him.
Mr Trump has previously expressed concern about the likelihood of mass protests. Last year he told Mrs May he did not want to go ahead with a visit until the British public supported it.
The Prime Minister and the President clashed in November when she criticised his decision to re-tweet anti-Muslim propaganda from a far-Right group, Britain First. In a rare public rebuke, she said: ‘I am very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.’
‘Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.’
Mr Trump hit back on Twitter, saying: ‘Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.’ He added: ‘We are doing just fine!’
They clashed again when Mrs May criticised his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling it ‘unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region’.
However, following a phone call between the pair on December 19, officials were bullish about the visit taking place. Their conversation was described as ‘genial’.
The prospect of mass protests were raised last month after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged his followers to turn out in force if Mr Trump visited the UK to send him a ‘clear message’. More than a million people signed a petition last year calling for the state visit to be cancelled.
Officials have already moved into the £750 million US embassy near Battersea Power Station in south London. An official opening involving the two leaders would have dispelled any concerns about the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the US, and boosted hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal.
Last night, Downing Street refused to comment. A spokesman said: ‘An invitation for a state visit has been extended and accepted.’
The US embassy said no firm date had been announced and suggested the President was still expected this year. On Tuesday, the White House confirmed Mr Trump will attend the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos. The event, from January 23 to 26, brings together the world’s economic and political elites.
Mr Trump has been battling the fallout from a highly critical book. He tried to ban Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, but it soared to the top of the bestseller lists. The book claimed officials around the President questioned his ‘intelligence and fitness for office’.
In the Commons this week, Labour frontbencher Liz McInnes urged the Government to withdraw the invitation for a state visit, calling it ‘wretched’. She said it should be scrapped to ‘save Her Majesty from that unpleasant-sounding ordeal’.
But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: ‘I think Her Majesty the Queen is well capable of taking this American President, or indeed any American President, in her stride.’