Tue, 16 Oct 2018

Trump ends plans to visit Britain as fears of protests grow

By Sheetal Sukhija, The London News
12 Jan 2018, 15:53 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - Amid fears of a massive protest rally planned in London, the U.S. President Donald Trump is said to have abandoned all plans to visit the country.

Trump had planned to visit the U.K. next month, to inaugurate the multimillio-pound U.S. embassy in the country, but has now backed off the idea. 

According to reports quoting Government sources as suggesting that the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson will now take Trump’s place to open the new U.S. embassy next month. 

A year back, when Trump initially came to power, the U.K. Prime Minister had invited Trump for a state visit, during her visit to the White House. 

Now, with activists pledging to stage mass protests and MPs determined not to give the president the opportunity to address parliament, no date for a state visit has been set.

The reports stated that instead, it is expected that Trump would make a brief, less formal “working visit” next month.

He is set to cut the ribbon on the $1 billion embassy in Nine Elms, south-west London, and will also hold meetings with May.

It said that officials had been examining plans for the president to meet the Queen, without a grandiose and pompous state banquet, with the attendant risk of disruptive protests.

For the time being however, even a modest plan now appears to have been abandoned.

Late last year, the British government’s relations with Trump hit a new low after May criticized his decision to retweet videos posted by the far right extremist group, Britain First.

In response, Trump tweeted directly at the U.K. prime minister and said that she should focus on tackling domestic terrorism.

As the conflict extended, the government grew so concerned about Trump’s decision to share the extremist videos that Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, took the rare step of raising the issue directly with the White House.

Woody Johnson, Trump’s ambassador to London then insisted, “The president and the prime minister have a very, very good relationship. I know the president admires and respects the prime minister greatly. My job and the president’s job is to protect Americans. He’s doing the best that he can.”

He reportedly said, “You’re going to have little stumbles along the road. Absolutely. You’re going to have things that happen. But the intent is there and it’s genuine, and it’s going to happen.”

While May’s government has continued to make efforts to strike a close working relationship with the Trump administration, his erratic behaviour has led to some problems.

Yet, Britain desires to strike a swift trade deal with the world’s largest economy.

Following Trump’s inauguration last year, thousands of people in London joined a Women’s March, mirroring similar protests in Washington and other capitals.

Protests were largely against his misogynist comments and behaviour.

So far, Downing Street has refused to confirm that Trump’s visit had been cancelled.

A spokesman repeated the government’s longstanding position that “an invitation has been extended and accepted, but no date has been set.”

Meanwhile, the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has maintained that an invitation was made and has been accepted but that a date had not been finalized.

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