Trump to visit Britain in June, risking repeat of public protests

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and US President Donald Trump at a welcome ceremony at Windsor Castle in Britain on July 13, 2018.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth and US President Donald Trump at a welcome ceremony at Windsor Castle in Britain on July 13, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth will host US President Donald Trump on a state visit to the UK on June 3-5, risking a repeat of the nationwide public protests which greeted the US president during his trip last year.

A state visit is the highest honour afforded to visiting dignitaries and comes at a critical time for Prime Minister Theresa May's government as it tries to salvage the so-called special relationship and pursue a post-Brexit trade deal with the US. Trump, who will be a guest of the Queen, is likely to receive a banquet at Buckingham Palace and a ride in a gilt carriage escorted by mounted soldiers.

"The State Visit is an opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defence, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead," May said in a statement. "We must continue to stand together to uphold our shared values and way of life."

Trump and May will hold talks in London and take part in an event to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which saw massive allied landings in mainland Europe in one of the turning points of World War II. The two leaders will travel to Portsmouth for the commemoration, which will feature a fly-past and a gathering of Royal Navy warships.

Trump's visit to the UK last July was quietly downgraded from a state visit, but that didn't stop the protests. They included a helium-filled caricature of the president known as the Trump Baby. He didn't visit Parliament and was forced to move around the country by helicopter.

The president was taken to Blenheim Palace, the 300-year-old mansion where World War II leader Winston Churchill was born. He met May at her country estate, and took tea with the queen at Windsor Castle. All the venues were outside of London - part of the government's strategy to avoid ruffling the feathers of a leader known to react impulsively to criticism - to steer clear of the tens of thousands of protesters.

Opponents of Trump have already said they will take to the streets again to protest against his visit. The opposition Labour Party criticised the invitation, saying that Trump shouldn't receive the honour of a state visit.

'WASTING MONEY'

"This is a president who has systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite our two countries," Emily Thornberry, Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, said in a statement on Tuesday. "Unless Theresa May is finally going to stand up to him and object to that behaviour, she has no business wasting taxpayers' money on all the pomp, ceremony and policing costs that will come with this visit."

 
 

Relations between Trump and May have been fraught. Despite being the first world leader to visit him at the White House, the two have never enjoyed a close rapport. He regards her as a bossy schoolmistress; she finds it hard to get a word in on their trans-Atlantic phone calls.

Trump's past statements on Brexit have also made it harder for the prime minister to push her feuding Cabinet towards a compromise on leaving the European Union.

The president has repeatedly angered Britons, including by re-tweeting propaganda from a far-right British anti-Muslim group and criticising London's response to terrorist attacks.

Trump will travel to France for further D-Day commemorations and to meet President Emmanuel Macron after he's been in the UK, the White House said.