Around half of the British public think the UK must scrap its invitation for a full state visit to Donald Trump following his support for a British far-right group, a poll has revealed.
The exclusive survey for The Independent by BMG Research shows 48 per cent want the visit written off, with the figure soaring to 61 per cent once “don’t knows” are removed.
Hardening opposition to the official trip, which would see Mr Trump meet the Queen, came as the US ambassador to London signalled a less formal visit to the UK would take place in the new year.
Any journey by Mr Trump to Britain will likely be beset by demonstrations over the President’s support for the far right, his climate change policies, the “Muslim travel ban” and the decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The poll asked respondents whether, following criticism for Mr Trump’s promotion of videos posted by Britain First, “should his invitation be officially withdrawn for his state visit to the UK?”
Of more than 1,500 people in a controlled sample questioned, 48 per cent said the invitation should be withdrawn, 31 per cent said it should not and 21 per cent said they did not know.
When those who did not express a preference are removed, the data shows almost two-thirds of people – 61 per cent – calling for the invitation to be ditched and 39 per cent saying it should not.
The invitation was extended by Theresa May when she travelled to the US earlier in the year, a trip on which she was pictured holding hands with the controversial US leader.
Reports suggested it had originally been set to take place later in 2017, but quickly became bogged down, with indications that Buckingham Palace was wary of the President attracting negative attention to the Queen.
More recently, Ms May refused to back the President after he retweeted the anti-Muslim videos posted by Britain First, with the Prime Minister saying Mr Trump had been “wrong” – which sparked an unprecedented public row between the two.
Mr Trump hit back on social media that Ms May should concentrate on her own job, tackling terrorism in the UK.
But despite the spat, Downing Street confirmed on Tuesday that the offer of a state visit still stood, though no date had been confirmed.
US ambassador Woody Johnson also suggested in the morning that a working trip, that would not involve the pomp and ceremony of the state visit, was likely to go ahead in early 2018.
The poll for The Independent also asked whether people thought Mr Trump should be allowed to come to the UK in “any capacity” – 43 per cent, said he should be able to visit, 40 per cent said he should not and 17 per cent did not express an opinion either way.
Once “don’t knows” were excluded, the country appeared evenly split, with 51 per cent saying he should be allowed and 49 per cent saying he should not.
Speaking ahead of the opening of a new US embassy in London, Mr Johnson said the spat between the two leaders over the President’s tweets was “probably misinterpreted”.
He added that the planned move of his country’s embassy from central London to a new £800m complex in Battersea, south of the Thames, would mean an American president having to dedicate the new building.
Ms May and Ms Trump have also been at loggerheads over a series of issues, including his planned withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change agreement, the Iranian nuclear deal and the imposition of tariffs on UK-based manufacturer Bombardier.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has said the President would not be welcome to speak in Parliament on any kind of trip, an honour typically given prestigious overseas politicians.
Protests also threaten to mar the trip, with organisers saying they hope to gather a million people to demonstrate against him if he comes to the UK in 2018.
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