US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK will go ahead despite reports he asked the British government to postpone it amid fear of mass protests.
The White House and Downing Street have both dismissed reports by the Guardian on Sunday that Trump had called UK Prime Minister Theresa May to delay his state visit planned for this autumn.
The newspaper reported that, according to a Downing Street advisor, the US leader had called May, saying he is hesitant about visiting the UK amid concern he will be rejected by the public.
Trump has faced widespread criticism for his controversial remarks about London Mayor Sadiq Khan following the terrorist attack on London Bridge and Borough Market last week that killed eight and injured almost 50
He slammed the mayor for saying British people should not be alarmed by the increased security presence on the streets.
When Khan responded saying he had “more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks,” Trump took his criticism a step further, accusing the mayor of making up “pathetic excuses.”
The Guardian also reported that May, who invited the Republican soon after he was sworn in as president in January, was surprised by Trump’s reservations.
Although the Trump administration did tell the BBC the president “does not feel like” visiting the UK anytime soon, White House sources claimed talks of the state visit had “never come up” during the call between the two leaders, and added that “the president has tremendous respect for Prime Minister May.”
According to a White House readout, Trump had simply called May to “offer his warm support” following the election.
“President Trump emphasized his commitment to the United States-United Kingdom special relationship and underscored that he looks forward to working with the Prime Minister on shared goals and interests in the years to come,” the statement said.
“We aren’t going to comment on speculation about the contents of private phone conversations,” a Downing Street spokesman said, according to the BBC.
“The Queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the UK and there is no change to those plans.”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Trump is “terrified” of the British public and that he is aware his policies are deemed “appalling” across the pond.
“Theresa May should be embarrassed that she was so quick to offer Trump a state visit. Now neither of them want to be seen with the other,” Farron added.
Trump has received international condemnation for his controversial anti-immigration policies, including a proposed order to block people from seven-Muslim majority countries from entering the US.
After the visit was announced in February, Londoners took to the streets in mass protest, while a petition calling for the state visit to be canceled, as it would be an “embarrassment” to the Queen, garnered 1.85 million signatories.
The prime minister nonetheless said the invitation would not be withdrawn, and that the British government would still “extend the full courtesy of a State Visit” to Trump.