It’s official: Trump to visit United Kingdom in July
President Donald Trump will visit the United Kingdom in July, the White House and Downing Street announced on Thursday, finally concluding a months-long back-and-forth over when Trump would at last visit America’s closest ally.
“The President of the United States will visit the UK on 13 July. He will hold bilateral talks with the Prime Minister during his visit. Further details will be set out in due course,” a Downing Street spokesman said in a statement.
At the White House, press secretary Sarah Sanders announced the trip during a briefing with the children of reporters who were visiting for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
“That’s pretty exciting news around here, which we’re all happy about,” she said.
The trip will not constitute the “state visit” that Prime Minister Theresa May triumphantly announced more than a year ago from the White House. The first foreign leader to visit Trump after his inauguration, May had hoped the high honor — extended directly from Queen Elizabeth II herself — would help solidify the US-UK “special relationship” at a moment of uncertainty.
Since then, however, tensions have persisted between the two governments, including over Trump’s criticism of London’s mayor, his tweets about a bombing in London, and his retweets of an extreme right-wing British group.
Instead, Trump’s stopover will be categorized as a “working visit,” without elaborate trappings like a horse parade or a state dinner at Buckingham Palace. It will include meetings with May and her aides, who are eager to begin talks on a new trade agreement with the US as Britain nears its exit from the European Union.
It could also include a meeting with the Queen, but officials said those plans are still not final. It’s also not yet clear whether Trump’s meetings will be in London or somewhere else in Britain, where he may be able to avoid expected protests. Trump owns two golf properties in the United Kingdom, both in Scotland.
Three British government officials told CNN that Trump’s visit could occur outside of London. Among the possibilities, the officials said, are a meeting with the Queen at Windsor Castle just outside the capital, and a meeting with May at her country retreat, Chequers.
The officials acknowledged the British government knows that protests will likely be large and disruptive around Trump’s visit, and it’s believed that focusing on these outlying areas would be best for both parties.
Speaking to the British Press Association this week, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said protests of some kind would likely accompany Trump’s visit but said they would be peaceful.
“I have no doubt that if he does come, there will be some people who want to express their views loudly and peacefully to the President,” said Khan, who has clashed with Trump over Twitter and has even said Trump should not visit Britain. “We have got a great history in our city of bringing about change by protest, the key thing is for it to be lawful, for it to be peaceful.”
On his previous presidential trips to Europe, Trump has mostly avoided mass protests. Parisians largely shrugged when he visited the French capital in July. Anarchists rioted in Hamburg during his stop at the G20 meetings, but that’s standard for those types of summits.
Trump had previously been penciled in to visit London in February to attend the opening of the new American embassy. Aides in Washington and London had commenced initial talks for the short stopover.
But the trip was scrubbed after Trump balked at the cost of the new building, which came in north of a billion dollars.
“Bad deal,” he wrote on Twitter. “Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”