US presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis meets Foreign Secretary in UK visit

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Ron DeSantis has been hosted in the UK by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly as the Florida governor seeks to burnish his credentials ahead of a possible run against Donald Trump to be the Republican choice in the race for the White House.

The conservative firebrand and Mr Cleverly discussed ties between Britain and the US state he represents while visiting the Foreign Office on Friday.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who was attending Tory conferences in Scotland and Wales, will not be meeting Mr DeSantis, who has been criticised by the LGBTQ community over the “don’t say gay” law banning discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools, which Joe Biden’s administration has called “hateful”.

Like Mr Trump, the Florida governor has not announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination but is widely expected to do so.

His visit presents a diplomatic challenge to ministers, who will want to be accommodating but not risk provoking the ire of Mr Trump by being seen as taking sides in the contest.

Mr DeSantis, who was wrapping up his trade mission in the UK after stops in Japan, South Korea and Israel, also met with Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch.

The Foreign Office said Mr Cleverly and the governor discussed “the close and important partnership between the UK and Florida”.

“This meeting was an opportunity to strengthen ties with the fourth-largest US state, and support bilateral economic cooperation that is already worth more than £5 billion a year,” a statement added.