President Donald Trump is expected to visit the United Kingdom in July, according to two people familiar with the matter, a trip that would conclude a months-long back-and-forth over when Trump would at last visit America’s closest ally.
Still, the officials cautioned that at least one previously planned trip to Britain had been suddenly scrubbed, and said firm plans for July’s visit were still being formulated. No final announcement has been made, and both the White House and the British Embassy in Washington declined to comment.
The trip is not expected to 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.
Speaking to the British Press Association this week, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said protests of some kind would like 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!”