Tuesday 22 January 2019

Trump to meet Queen Elizabeth on UK trip - but he'll avoid London over protests

President Donald Trump will visit Britain in July. Photo: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images
President Donald Trump will visit Britain in July. Photo: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

Ben Riley-Smith

US President Donald Trump will meet Britain's Queen Elizabeth and go to Chequers when he visits Britain in July - but he will largely avoid London amid fears of mass protests.

The US leader's long-delayed trip will take place on July 13 but last just 24 hours, including talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May and an overnight stay. Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, said the news was "fantastic" but senior Labour figures warned that critics will not hold their tongues during the trip.

The White House press secretary let slip the date on Thursday in a press conference for journalists' children to mark America's 'Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day'. Mr Trump is understood to have personally approved the visit after weeks of careful negotiations between his staff, 10 Downing Street and the UK embassy in Washington.

The visit triggered renewed fears of mass protests - one of the reasons Mr Trump has delayed going to Britain for so long, according to US and UK sources.

It also offers a chance for Mrs May to improve her personal relationship with the US president, which figures close to both leaders privately acknowledge is not especially warm.

Emmanuel Macron's three-day state visit to America this week, where the French and US leaders heralded a new "special relationship", has cast the May-Trump relationship in a harsh light.

Friday, July 13, has been chosen as the date because Mr Trump, who is known not to enjoy long-distance travel, is in Brussels for a Nato meeting on July 11 and 12.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "He will hold bilateral talks with the prime minister during his visit. Further details will be set out in due course."

While the exact details of the trip remain under discussion, Mr Trump is set to meet the queen. He has repeatedly said how much his Scottish mother admired her. He is also expected to hold talks with Mrs May at Chequers, her countryside residence. UK aides believe that pomp and ceremony will help foster a warmer relationship with the US president.

Mr Trump is expected largely to avoid the British capital, however, in a move that would minimise his exposure to the protests that are expected.

Mr Trump pulled out of a "working visit" in February to open the new US embassy in London, saying he was not a "big fan" of the deal Barack Obama struck for the building.

However, US and UK sources have suggested concerns over protests in London and continued hostility to a visit from the Labour leadership was a bigger reason for the cancellation.

Mr Johnson tweeted: "FANTASTIC news that President Donald Trump will at last come to Britain on 13 July. Looking forward to seeing our closest ally and friend on the GREATest visit ever."

There are concerns in the UK government that Mrs May's clashes with Mr Trump have helped Mr Macron develop a closer relationship with the US president. A Downing Street Cabinet source said: "There is genuine concern that May has mishandled the special relationship and allowed Macron to get ahead of us."

Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, said: "One of the reasons that we are way behind the French is because we have got senior Labour figures who want to have mass street protests in London." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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