President Trump to visit UK in July

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Theresa May and Donald Trump met in Davos earlier this year

US President Donald Trump is to visit the UK on Friday 13 July, after previously cancelling a trip amid claims he would face mass protests.

It will not be the full-blown state visit Mr Trump was promised when Prime Minister Theresa May visited the White House in January last year.

But an invitation to a state visit still stands, the BBC understands.

BBC North America editor Jon Sopel said he understood the president was likely to meet the Queen during the visit.

Mr Trump will hold talks with Mrs May, Downing Street said, with further details to be “set out in due course”.

The prime minister said she was “looking forward to welcoming President Trump to the United Kingdom for a working visit on July 13”.

‘Unity over division’

The July date follows the Nato summit in Brussels which the president is expected to attend.

Downing Street and the White House hoped to co-ordinate releasing details of the trip, but Mr Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders apparently let slip the information first.

UK ambassador Sir Kim Darroch confirmed the date on Twitter, saying he was “delighted” that Mr Trump would visit the UK.

Itinerary being worked out

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Will the president fit in a day at his golf course in Scotland?

By Jon Sopel, BBC North American editor

The White House announcement confirming the date of the president’s visit came sooner than Downing Street had anticipated, which means there is still a lot of detail to work out.

The centrepiece will be his talks with Theresa May, but most attention is likely to focus on any audience he has with the Queen.

I understand they will meet, either at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

She has, after all, met every serving US president during her reign except of Lyndon B Johnson.

What will also be fascinating is to see if Mr Trump meets Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

It’s also conceivable that he will bolt on an extra day to his trip to visit Turnberry, the championship golf course he owns on the west coast of Scotland.

And then there is the likely logistical issue of policing, and how to keep demonstrators at bay.

One minister has been quoted as saying Donald Trump won’t go anywhere where he can be publicly shouted at.

Mr Trump cancelled a planned trip to London to open the new US embassy in Vauxhall earlier this year, complaining the move to an “off location” south of the Thames had been a “bad deal”.

But critics said his decision may have been driven by a fear of protests.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted that it was “fantastic” news that Mr Trump would “at last” be visiting Britain.

His successor as mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan – who has clashed with the US president in the past over London terror attacks and Mr Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the US – tweeted the president would experience a city that chose “unity over division”.

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director, said: “When Donald Trump arrives on these shores, we and thousands of our supporters will very definitely be making our voices heard.”

And Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson said the “scaled-down trip must not be met by scaled-down protests”.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said on BBC One’s Question Time that she would not join protests, but defended the rights of others to do so – saying Mr Trump’s “actions and his attitudes have made him so frightening to so many people in this country”.

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Media captionDonald Trump and Theresa May held hands briefly in Washington

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock told the same programme that the US-UK relationship was “much deeper than any one person” and “we have to make sure that we influence the strongest economy on earth”.

“The United States kicked out more Russian diplomats than any other country in response to the Salisbury attack,” he said.

“They have been strong supporters when we have needed them recently in the face of Russian aggression.”

More than 33,000 people on Facebook have already said they will attend a protest organised by left-wing journalist Owen Jones.

Six Conservative groups – including the think tanks the Bow Group and the Bruges Group – have written to Mr Trump urging him to focus his visit on his “ancestral home” of Scotland, where his mother was born.

‘Embarrassed’

Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group, said: “A visit to London by the president is likely to draw major protests, crime and disorder, and we do not wish to see Britain or President Trump embarrassed by this.

“It is important that the people of the United States and its government know there are many in Britain who strongly support the president and the special relationship, and wish for President Trump to be afforded the warmest of welcomes.

“Sadly that will not be the case in London.”

Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit Mr Trump in the White House following his inauguration in January 2017.

She conveyed an invitation from the Queen for Mr Trump to come for a state visit – a formal occasion with much pomp and ceremony.

Mr Trump accepted the invitation but a date has yet to be set, amid speculation it has been postponed indefinitely.

Plans for a working visit to the UK in 2018 were announced when Mr Trump met Mrs May at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

BBC North America editor Jon Sopel said Mrs May would have lots of business to discuss with Mr Trump, from the framework of a future trade deal to his plans for tariffs on steel and aluminium.

But he added, after the high-profile visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington DC this week – and with German Chancellor Angela Merkel flying in for a US visit on Thursday – the “optics” of such a visit were important and Britain would not want to get left behind.

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