Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit the 45th President at the White House in January 2017, and just seven days after his inauguration she invited Trump on a full state visit to Britain, initially scheduled for June this year.
However, Trump’s decision to retweet propaganda from far-right extremist group Britain First sparked a fierce backlash in the UK and his subsequent attack on the PM has hardened calls for the government to withdraw the invitation of a state visit.
Controversy around Trump’s proposed visit is not new, ranging from protests and ban petitions, through to acrimonious tweets, to notorious opposition from a number of political figures and parliamentary debates.
A state visit is a formal visit by a head of state and is normally at the invitation of the Queen, who acts on advice from the government. State visits are used by the government in office to further what it sees as Britain’s national interests.The official invitation is traditionally reserved for a president’s second term in office.
- The proposed state visit sparked anger after his administration banned entry to the US for nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries and suspended the US’s refugee programme. An online petition titled, ‘Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom’ was signed by 1.86million people. The petition demanded the government to withdraw the invitation of a state visit because his ‘misogyny and vulgarity’ would embarrass the Queen.
- Protests led by left-wingers took place in Westminster urging the government to scrap the state visit because they do not agree with Donald Trump’s election, policies and misogynistic comments.
- Commons Speaker, John Bercow, one of three ‘key holders’ to Westminster Hall, told MPs that Mr Trump should not be allowed to address Parliament.
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan said:
‘State visits are different from a normal visit and at a time when the US President has policies that many in our country disagree with, I am not sure it is appropriate for our government to roll out the red carpet’.
- Trump’s visit was delayed until October in a bid for the controversy of his attempted travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries to die down.
- It was reported that the trip was being postponed until people support him coming to the UK. The White House denied reports that the President wanted to delay his visit until he could be sure of a better reception. In an effort to avoid controversy American officials planned the visit as a more low-key affair where he would be a guest of the US ambassador rather than Buckingham Palace.
- Senior Downing Street sources admitted that the original plan for a visit in summer 2017 had been abandoned.
- American officials suggested he could make an unofficial visit to London before the end of the year.
- The White House confirmed Donald Trump will not visit the UK this year. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it ‘still hasn’t been determined’ whether the US President would make a full state visit to Britain as the state visit had been downgraded to a less controversial working trip next year, which would see him missing out on meeting the Queen.
- Home Secretary Amber Rudd, hinted last week that Trump’s state visit could be postponed after the US President launched a direct attack on Theresa May for criticising his decision to retweet three anti-Muslim videos from the account of far-right political group, Britain First.
- An urgent question was tabled in the House of Commons last Thursday by Labour MP Stephen Doughty, who said: ‘President Trump is racist, incompetent, unthinking, or all three’. Several MPs supported him in urging the government to cancel the President’s planned state visit.
- MP Dennis Skinner said, ‘actions, not words need to be taken against this fascist president’.
- Barry Sheerman warned there would be, ‘unparalleled demonstrations on the streets’ if the visit were to go ahead.
- Conservative MP Rachel Maclean said parliamentarians were ‘all disgusted’ by Trump’s actions’, and Peter Bone asked if the PM would be able to ‘persuade the president to delete his Twitter account’.
- Ms Rudd said:
‘The invitation has been extended and accepted but we have yet to make the arrangements. No date has been agreed yet’.