LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will make a working visit to Britain in early 2018, with a full state visit to follow later at an unspecified date, the London Evening Standard newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office declined to comment on the report, and said its position on the state visit had not changed. The offer had been extended, accepted by Trump, and no dates had been arranged.
May invited Trump for a state visit during a trip to Washington in January, shortly after he was inaugurated as president. The plan has proved controversial in Britain, with mass protests expected to greet the U.S. leader.
The Evening Standard, which is edited by George Osborne, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, fired by May last year, reported that diplomats were discussing plans for a pared-down working visit, devoid of the pomp of a full state visit.
Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper said it was likely to form part of a tour of several countries by the U.S. president.
The Guardian newspaper reported in June that Trump’s state visit had been postponed indefinitely after he told May during a phone conversation that he did not want to come if there were going to be large-scale protests.
The White House denied that report and May’s Downing Street office said plans for the state visit had not changed.
The British government regards its close ties with Washington as a “special relationship” and a pillar of its foreign policy as it prepares to leave the European Union.
But May’s haste in visiting Trump so early in his term and inviting him for a state visit, which typically involves lavish pageantry and events hosted by Queen Elizabeth, was criticised by some in Britain.
Trump’s pledge during his campaign to stop Muslims from entering the United States caused outrage in Britain, going as far as a debate in parliament about whether Trump should be banned from the country.
Reporting by Estelle Shirbon, editing by Elizabeth Piper