US President Donald Trump has reportedly postponed his planned state visit to Britain over opposition by members of Parliament and fears of public protest.
Trump had shared his concerns about the trip with Prime Minister Theresa May during a phone call two weeks ago.
The state visit, which has stirred controversy in the UK, had originally been planned for June. A provisional three-day slot for Trump’s formal visit has been penciled in from October 5 to 8, according to the report.
The change in plan was made by mutual agreement between 10 Downing Street and the White House. They agreed to wait until the controversy over Trump’s attempted entry ban on citizens of seven Muslim countries subsides.
“Trump still really wants to come this year, but he wants the heat to die down a bit first,” the newspaper quoted a senior government source as saying. “The White House watches what happens over here surprisingly closely, and they don’t want to create a scene for our sake either,” the source added.
The new slot falls just before Parliament returns from a recess, allowing Trump to bypass an address to protesting lawmakers.
State visits by foreign leaders typically include an address to Parliament. The invitation for the formal visit was extended by May while she was visiting Washington in January.
An online petition urging the UK government to withdraw the invitation attracted more than 1.8 million signatures, forcing the MPs to hold a debate on the issue.
The petition, which was later rejected by the Foreign Office, called for Trump to be allowed to enter the UK but not be granted an official state visit over concerns it would cause embarrassment to Queen Elizabeth.
The British government has said the invitation “reflects the importance of the relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom”.—Agencies