Trump set to make second UK visit immediately after Brexit, recording reveals

Return trip planned with the pomp and ceremony of a full state visit, which traditionally includes a military guard of honour

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 22 June 2018 10:22
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What is still needed to complete a deal with the EU?

Donald Trump is poised to make a second trip to the UK immediately after Brexit, a recording reveals – this time with the pomp and ceremony of a full state visit.

British and US diplomats have been captured making plans for the return visit, at the formal invitation of the Queen and – if precedent is followed – including a military guard of honour.

The move was immediately criticised, coming just days after Mr Trump was condemned around the world for his policy of keeping migrant children in cages at the US border.

“It is ridiculous that the British government acts in this obsequious way to a man who wants to wreck the open trading system on which the UK depends,” said Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader.

On Wednesday, Theresa May was forced to rebuff calls in the House of Commons for Mr Trump’s first visit – next month – to be scrapped in protest at his immigration abuses.

Now Britain’s national security adviser and his US counterparts have been recorded discussing the plans for the state visit, in a Channel 4 documentary to mark the opening of the new US embassy.

Sir Mark Sedwill is heard saying it would be “worth having him here” to coincide with Second World War commemorations in “May next year”.

He says: “Let’s plan for a series of visits in his first term,” and – after suggesting next May for a state visit – adds: “The key thing is that we get him here.”

The comments were made to Woody Johnson, the US ambassador, at a reception, in late March, to formally open the new embassy building in London.

Mr Johnson replies: “Let’s get him here once. Once you get it then you know what you are dealing with.” Sir Mark replies: “Then you have broken the issue.”

The US ambassador then urges the security adviser not to let “fear” about the visit “hold you back”.

Sir Mark tells the ambassador he had already had discussions with his former counterpart in Washington, ex-national security adviser HR McMaster, and suggested making it “the first big visit after Brexit”.

Mr Johnson also said he did not see enough confidence in Britain over Brexit and urged “don't be pessimistic”.

“To see this defeatist attitude towards Brexit is a bit sorrowing to me,” he said.

The state visit was thought to have been shelved indefinitely, because of the fear of huge public protests and out of a desire to avoid embarrassing the royal family.

Instead, Mr Trump is to make a working visit, after attending a Nato summit in Brussels, arriving in the UK on 12 July.

He is expected to visit the prime minister the following day, either at Downing Street or Chequers, her country retreat – if a decision is taken to avoid the huge protests anticipated.

The US president is then expected to travel to Scotland to play golf with a celebrity. He will also meet the Queen at some point.

Officials from Mr Trump’s team were expected to thrash out the details of the president’s trip this week – but they are behind schedule, the recording also shows.

The delays are believed to be the result of the Singapore summit with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un.

Senior embassy officials said they expect his wife Melania to accompany Mr Trump, and for them to stay at least one night, but preparations are still being finalised.

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