News has leaked that Donald Trump, who loves to boast about how tough he is, has decided to put his state visit to the UK on hold because of the real possibility of large-scale protests, buoyed by the Labour party’s strong showing in the elections (they got 40% of the vote to just 42% for the Conservatives) and by Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist agenda that is everything that Trump opposes.
Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming.
The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.
The call was made in recent weeks, according to a Downing Street adviser who was in the room. The statement surprised May, according to those present.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said it would not comment. “We aren’t going to comment on speculation about the contents of private phone conversations. The Queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the UK and there is no change to those plans.”
May, eager to ingratiate herself with Trump, issued the invitation for a state visit a mere week after Trump was inaugurated, and it caused a lot of controversy in the UK. Even the Speaker of the House of Commons said he would not invite Trump to speak to parliament and so there were moves to have Trump visit when parliament was in recess so that the snub would not be so apparent. It did not help when Trump demanded ‘the full Monty’ of trappings, with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage with the Queen, which is just the kind of meaningless grandiosity that would appeal to a small-minded man like Trump. Then pulling out of the Paris climate accord just made things worse.
There were always going to be huge protests when Trump turned up so the only explanation that I can give for the decision to release this news now (which is clearly an official, authorized leak from either May’s or Trump’s office) is the result of the elections which are seen as a repudiation of May and almost the entire political and media establishment that was viciously anti-Corbyn. May must have felt that she has enough problems at home without the albatross of a Trump visit hanging over her head and making her unpopularity even more manifest. The combination of Trump and her together would be sufficient motivation to get huge numbers of protestors to gather in the streets and along motorcades. Those images would be hard for even Trump and his spokespersons to lie and put a positive spin, like they tried to do with his inauguration crowd. Hugh Muir argues that unlike in the US, Trump could not control who attended his events in the UK nor depend upon right-wing thugs to intimidate the public and journalists.
Trump’s chickening out looks a lot like that in the tale of Sir Robin from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.