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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Trump's visit to the UK further delayed

Amid an ongoing spat between the leaders of the UK and the US, the American president's first visit to Britain has undergone another set back, reports Sanya Burgess in London

The 'special relationship' between the UK and US is under threat after Donald Trump and Theresa May embarked on a public war of words. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
The 'special relationship' between the UK and US is under threat after Donald Trump and Theresa May embarked on a public war of words. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Donald Trump will no longer visit the UK in January, according to the British press.

US diplomats have abandoned plans for the president to conduct a ‘working’ visit to Britain as the disagreement between the two countries’ leaders rumbles on.

Tentative plans for the US president to travel to England in early 2018 to formally open America’s new London embassy had been worked on.

The trip from the US leader was downgraded from a state visit over protests from MPs and the UK government’s desire to avoid the mass protests that would likely be held by the swathes of the general British public.

Mr Trump’s planned visit would not have included a meeting with the Queen and was to be billed as a functional, rather than ceremonial visit.

British broadsheet newspaper The Telegraph has reported that Mr Trump’s visit has been delayed following the fallout over the US president using his Twitter account in a way that would likely incite hatred against Muslims. The newspaper reports that no new date has been selected.

A senior US diplomat told the news outlet: "The idea of a visit has obviously been floated, but not December and not January. I would not expect a Trump visit in January."

The two countries’ leaders are involved in a very public spat which threatens to undermine the ‘special relationship’ that their forerunners had worked hard to build and protect.

Mr Trump retweeted (republished onto his own account) videos posted by Britain First, a fringe far-Right group.

The first tweet, which was originally posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, claims to show a Muslim migrant attacking a man on crutches. This was later debunked.

Mr Trump then retweeted two more videos posted by Ms Fransen. One shows a man she claims is Muslim smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary, a Christian religious figure. The third video was captioned by Ms Fransen as “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”.

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Read more: Trump's overnight Twitter feud with Theresa May leaves Britons spluttering into their morning teacups

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His actions provoked widespread condemnation in the UK, US and beyond.

Fiegen Murray, the mother of one of the victims of the Manchester terrorist attack earlier this year, posted a response to the US president on Twitter, saying: “My son Martyn Hett was killed at Manchester arena. So I experienced terror first hand. But spreading racist material is equal to throwing petrol into a burning fire. Anger breeds anger, hate breeds hate! Please just stop all this hate campaign”.

Brendan Cox, whose wife, the MP Jo Cox, was murdered by a white nationalist who shouted “Britain First!” before he stabbed her in broad day light, also posted.

He said: “Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself”.

Mrs May responded to Mr Trump’s actions with a carefully worded statement, saying: “I am very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.”.

Asked whether Mr Trump was legitimising Britain First and what the group stands for, she said: "I think that we must all take seriously the threat that far-Right groups pose, both in terms of the terrorist threat that is posed by those groups and the necessity of dealing with extremist material which is far-Right as well.

“I hve commented in the past on issues in the United States on this matter. In the United Kingdom we take the far-Right very seriously and that is why we ensure that we deal with these threats and this extremism wherever it comes and whatever its source.”

"The fact that we work together does not mean that we are afraid to say when we think the United States have got it wrong and be very clear with them," she added.

Hours later, as the UK slept and as Donald Trump woke on the other side of the Atlantic, he shot a reply back to the British prime minister using his preferred method of communication.

After initially tweeting incorrectly to a Theresa May with six followers who lives in a modest seaside town in England, he tweeted: “.@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”

In America, senior Republicans such as Orrin Hatch offered support for Mrs May and criticised their president.

The Telegraph’s source confirmed that a January visit would not be happening but said the decision was not linked to this week’s Twitter row.

The trip has widely been described as planned for Spring 2018 but many rumours suggested it would occur in the first month of the year to coincide with the opening of the new US embassy.

A spokesperson for the UK’s foreign office said: “Our position on the state visit has not changed. The offer has been extended and accepted. There are no dates confirmed for President Trump’s visit to the UK.”

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