Donald Trump UK visit set for July as mass protests planned

Joe Watts

British officials are preparing for Donald Trump to come to the UK for a working visit in mid-July, raising the spectre of mass protests the moment he touches down.

The Independent understands that the trip is being planned to coincide with a visit the US president is making to a Nato summit in Brussels.

But activists have had plans for major demonstrations laid out for months in expectation of the US leader's visit to the UK.

The trip – coming after French president Emmanuel Macron’s successful visit to Washington this week – is being called a ‘working visit’ meaning it will not carry the full pomp and ceremony of a state visit, though Downing Street said one of those was also still being planned.

Sources confirmed to The Independent on Wednesday that the “working visit” is set to go ahead in July, with the likely date being Friday 13 July.

The claims were corroborated by other reports in the UK and in the US, while Downing Street did little to deny them.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “When the prime minister and the president met at Davos, they said their officials were going to be putting together a working visit, and we will announce the details of that in due course.”

However, Whitehall sources also told The Independent that the planned trip is subject to White House decision-making and could still be cancelled.

Mr Trump has cancelled a previously planned trip to London to open the US embassy in January, criticising its move from Grosvenor Square to an “off location” south of the Thames as a “bad deal”.

But news reports at the time suggested that the threat of mass protests may have played a part in the cancellation.

Fear of bad publicity is also thought to have been behind the lack of progress in scheduling the state visit, which Theresa May invited the president to in January 2017.

It was reported that Buckingham Palace had raised concerns that protests against Mr Trump could affect the Queen’s image, with the monarch having to host leaders invited on state visits.

The prime minister delivered the invitation when she became the first world leader to visit Mr Trump after he was inaugurated, on a trip in which she was pictured holding hands with the president in the White House garden.

Afterwards their relationship waned, with the pair publicly clashing after the president decided to use his Twitter account to promote anti-Islamic propaganda videos from a far-right British group.

Things seemed to have improved with the president backing Ms May’s drive for action against Russia in the wake of the Salisbury attack and the united front over action in Syria.

But it has not gone unnoticed in Whitehall that Mr Macron has formed a close relationship with the US president, culminating in a trip to Washington this week.

Social media was already buzzing with talk of UK anti-Trump protests to coincide with the trip, with campaigners having promised a “march of millions” if the US president comes.