President Trump’s state visit to Great Britain is still set as originally scheduled. Unless it isn’t.
A lot of water has flowed under London Bridge since January when the new president accepted Queen Elizabeth’s formal invitation, via Prime Minister Theresa May, for a full-blown official visit this year.
May, meanwhile, made a disastrous political decision to call a snap election, which last week erased her Conservative Party majority in the House of Commons, forcing her to form a coalition with a small party in Northern Ireland.
And then following the latest terror attack in London, Trump got in a tweet-spat with the city’s Muslim mayor over how normal such things are in big cities.
The unexpected attack by the unpredictable president of the former British colony was widely condemned in Britain, if you can imagine such a thing. May was forced to defend Mayor Sadiq Khan who, as it happens, is a member of the opposition Labor Party. An awkward complication without which the prime minister could have done.
This weekend the Guardian newspaper reported a leak from an unidentified May aide who claimed to have overheard a recent phone conversation between Trump and May. The aide said Trump told the British leader he didn’t want to come if there would be large-scale protests.
A May spokesman later said, “We aren’t going to comment on speculation about the contents of private phone conversations. The queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the UK and there is no change to those plans.”
The White House also debunked the newspaper report. An administration spokesman told the Reuters news service, “The subject never came up on the call.” So now, apparently, we have international fake news from anonymous British government sources.
No specific date for the visit had been announced anyway, although the British press has reported October as a likely time. Trump is already scheduled to visit Poland and Germany later this summer, which would be a timely travel fit.
But the political turmoil surrounding the election and May government and Trump’s untimely tweets might suggest a respite until autumn. That, however, opens a wide window for additional combative tweets.