US President Donald Trump is to make his long-awaited state visit to the UK – an announcement greeted with condemnation and threats of mass demonstrations.
Prime Minister Theresa May hailed the visit, planned for June, as a chance for the UK and the US “to strengthen our already close relationship”, while the White House said it would “reaffirm the steadfast and special relationship” between the two nations.
Mr Trump is a controversial figure and confirmation of the trip was condemned by shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, who said the president had “systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite our two countries”.
Security around the visit is expected to be high and the organisation Stand Up To Trump said campaigners have pledged to mobilise huge numbers in response to the president’s trip.
Anti-Trump campaigners hope to fly the Donald Trump blimp – the president depicted as a nappy-wearing baby – over London once again as they did during his 2018 trip to the UK.
Mrs May, who was widely criticised for inviting the US leader to make a state visit just days into his presidency in 2017, said: “The UK and United States have a deep and enduring partnership that is rooted in our common history and shared interests.
“We do more together than any two nations in the world and we are both safer and more prosperous because of our co-operation.
“The state visit is an opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defence, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead.”
Mr Trump will hold bilateral talks with Mrs May at Downing Street during the visit from June 3-5, and will take part in commemorations in Portsmouth marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Visiting heads of state are sometimes given the honour of addressing both Houses of Parliament but Commons Speaker John Bercow sparked controversy in 2017 by saying the US leader should not be allowed to make a formal address.
The Speaker said at the time that addressing Parliament was “not an automatic right, it is an earned honour”.
Mr Bercow was urged last week to allow Mr Trump to address Parliament after rumours of the US president’s state visit began circulating.
A spokeswoman for the Speaker’s Office said: “Should a request be made to address the Houses of Parliament, it will be considered in the usual way.”
Buckingham Palace formally announced the state visit as the Queen is the president’s host, and it is understood the monarch’s official London home will be the venue for the visit and where the traditional state banquet will be held for Mr Trump and his wife Melania.
But the president is not expected to stay at the palace because of renovations being undertaken in the East Wing, part of a long-term project to refurbish the royal residence.
Mr Trump’s trip was expected to have taken place in 2017 but the president reportedly told Mrs May that year he would not come to Britain for his state visit until he is sure of getting a “better reception”.
A White House spokesman said: “This state visit will reaffirm the steadfast and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.”
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted: “The transatlantic relationship has been the foundation of global peace and prosperity for many years – and great things are yet to come!”
But the shadow foreign secretary said about the visit: “It beggars belief that on the very same day Donald Trump is threatening to veto a United Nations resolution against the use of rape as a weapon of war, Theresa May is pressing ahead with her plans to honour him with a state visit to the UK.
“This is a president who has systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite our two countries, and unless Theresa May is finally going to stand up to him and object to that behaviour, she has no business wasting taxpayers’ money on all the pomp, ceremony and policing costs that will come with this visit.”
Sabby Dhalu, from Stand Up To Trump, claimed the US leader was “the world’s number one racist, warmonger and misogynist”.
She added: “All those that value peace and hope for a better world for the many must take to the streets and say clearly that Donald Trump is not welcome here.”
The US leader’s working visit to the UK last summer, when he met the Queen at Windsor Castle, was also greeted with demonstrations.
The D-Day commemorations will be staged on June 5 at Portsmouth’s Southsea Common and involve live performances, military displays and tributes to the Allied troops who fought in Normandy, including a flypast of 26 RAF aircraft and at least 11 Royal Navy vessels in the Solent.
Mrs May said: “I am proud that the UK will host representatives and veterans from allied nations to pay tribute to that sacrifice and recognise the extraordinary co-operation that made the Normandy landings possible.
“And today – as we face new and different challenges to our security – we must continue to stand together to uphold our shared values and way of life.”
The Prime Minister and the president and his wife will travel to Normandy on June 6 for further Normandy commemorations, with Mrs May attending a number of events including the inauguration of the British Normandy memorial in Ver-Sur-Mer.