Donald Trump asks Theresa May to postpone his UK state visit to avoid mass protests
The visit has been delayed after Trump reportedly told May he fears a backlash against his controversial travel ban and rhetoric about Muslims.
Trump received worldwide criticism after signing an executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. His administration is now coming up with a new order after the first was banned by federal judges.
The visit is now tipped to take place on October 5 to 8, before Parliament returns from recess.
The new date will allow Trump to avoid attack by MPs, who condemned his policies during a recent parliamentary debate on whether he should be granted a state visit or not.
The debate was triggered after a petition calling for Trump to be banned from making an official state visit was signed by 1.8 million people.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow faced criticism for breaching his duty of impartiality after saying he would oppose “racist” and “sexist” Trump visiting Parliament.
“We value our relationship with the United States. If a state visit takes place, that is way beyond and above the pay grade of the speaker,” Bercow said.
“However, as far as this place is concerned I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.”
Government had already rejected the petition even before MPs had the chance to debate it, saying Trump would be given the “full courtesy” of a state visit.
The president, however, has apparently never expressed the desire to meet MPs, instead seeming very inclined to meet the Royal Family.
The visit in autumn should also be convenient for Trump as he will have greater chance of meeting the Queen in her Scottish residence at Balmoral Castle.
“Trump still really wants to come this year, but he wants the heat to die down a bit first,” a senior government source said, the Sun reported.
“The White House watch [sic] what happens over here surprisingly closely, and they don’t want to create a scene for our sake either.”
May extended her invitation to Trump in January, but her move was deemed “desperate” by some, as it came just several days after the president was sworn in. By comparison, predecessor Barrack Obama only received an invitation 758 days after being elected, while George W. Bush had to wait over two-and-a-half years.
Some have also accused the PM of showing subservience to Trump in order to secure a solid deal with the US in light of the uncertainty caused by Brexit.
Ex-Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond described May’s attitude towards the president as “stomach churning.”
“As an example of fawning subservience, the Prime Minister holding hands [with Trump] would be difficult to match,” he said.
“To do it in the name of shared values was stomach churning. What exactly are the shared values that this house, this country would hope to have?” Salmond said.