London mayor says Trump not worthy of state visit to Britain

LONDON • Ahead of United States President Donald Trump's state visit to Britain on June 3, London Mayor Sadiq Khan says he believes the American leader is not "in the same class" as his predecessors and is not worthy of the honour.

"Of course, we should have a close relationship with the President of the United States, but we shouldn't be rolling out the red carpet; we shouldn't have a state banquet," Mr Khan said on Friday, during an interview with LBC, a British talk-radio station.

"History tells us only two presidents have had a state visit," Mr Khan said. "President Trump is not in the same class as those two."

Mr Trump visited Britain last July, but that was not considered a state visit, even though he did visit the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Mr Khan's comments reflected widespread scepticism about the Trump administration in the British capital ahead of a long-delayed state trip next month.

They also raised the possibility that Mr Trump, who has criticised and insulted the mayor of London before, may retaliate, reigniting a war of words that would likely make his visit to the city more contentious.

British Prime Minister Theresa May extended an invitation for a state visit to Mr Trump during a visit to Washington in January 2017, just days after the US President had taken office.

"I am delighted that the President has accepted that invitation," she told a White House news conference. The only two state visits to Britain by US presidents in the past were in 2011, when President Barack Obama visited, and in 2003, President George W. Bush.

State visits are formal trips to Britain by heads of state from countries overseas, with considerable pomp and circumstance that is not afforded to less-formal visits by world leaders.

However, as relations between Mr Trump and Mrs May grew difficult, the US leader's state visit to Britain was repeatedly delayed.

When Mr Trump finally made a brief visit to London in July last year - this was a working visit, rather than a state visit - he was greeted by protests and a giant blimp that depicted Mr Trump as a screaming baby in a diaper.

Even before Mr Trump was elected, Mr Khan had criticised him, telling Time magazine that as he is a Muslim he would be stopped from going to the US under Mr Trump's proposed Muslim travel ban. Mr Trump later responded by calling Mr Khan "rude" and "ignorant".

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 12, 2019, with the headline 'London mayor says Trump not worthy of state visit to Britain'. Print Edition | Subscribe