US president Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK “will go ahead” despite growing public anger, a senior government has confirmed.
And UK officials are believed to readying themselves for the prospect of a “flying” visit from the US president when he is in Europe this month – including the prospect of a trip to his Aberdeenshire golf resort. Mr Trump will be in France for the Bastille Day celebrations on 14 July and a trip to the Menie Estate could be squeezed as part of a visit to the UK.
It came as Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan delivered a further sign of the government’s commitment to hosting a state visit for the president, writing in a letter to Labour’s Paul Flynn that the event is an opportunity to “further advance” the relationship between the US and the UK.
But Sir Alan added that British officials have yet to finalise what the US president would do on his visit, while also reiterating no date has been fixed for the controversial event.
Former shadow minister Mr Flynn criticised the government’s stance and said opposition has “almost certainly risen” since the invitation was debated in Parliament in February, which was triggered by a petition claiming a state visit would “cause embarrassment” to the Queen.
The petition attracted more than 1.8 million signatures, while a separate one backing Mr Trump’s state visit received 317,542 signatures.
The visit received no mention in the Queen’s Speech, fuelling speculation it had been put on the backburner.
This came after the White House denied reports Mr Trump had told Mrs May he does not want to go ahead with the trip if it is going to lead to large-scale demonstrations.
During the general election campaign, Mr Flynn wrote to the Prime Minister asking her to cancel or postpone the invitation, given there was “widespread talk of impeachment” surrounding Mr Trump.
Sir Alan, in a letter sent after the election, wrote in reply: “You will be aware, as the member of the Petitions Committee who led the debate in Westminster Hall on 20 February, that I said, ‘This is a special moment for the special relationship. The visit should happen. The visit will happen.’
A separate visit this month would probably only be confirmed 24 hours beforehand, it was reported at the weekend, to limit the possibility of anti-Trump demonstrators disrupting the visit.
A White House source told one Sunday paper: “There is a window of opportunity for the president to visit Britain when he is in Europe later this month.
“It is likely it will be hastily arranged and it is possible no official confirmation of his visit will be given until at least 24 hours before to stop any large-scale protests against his visit from being mobilised.”