President Donald Trump won’t make a planned state visit to Britain until next year because he is wildly unpopular among the Brits.
Trump had been invited to visit the UK sometime this year by British Prime Minister Theresa May just seven days after his inauguration. May had said that she was “delighted that the president has accepted that invitation.”
But after feuding with London’s mayor on Twitter, withdrawing the US from the Paris climate accord (a decision May said she’s “dismayed” at), and working toward a trade deal with the UK which many citizens oppose, it’s no wonder the Brits aren’t Trump’s biggest fans.
The Guardian and the BBC reported on Tuesday that the White House decided to postpone a state visit to next year until Trump had more popular support.
There’s still a possibility that Trump could visit London by the end of this year for a low-key meeting if he is in Europe on other business, according to the Guardian, but there has been tension over the state visit ever since it was announced.
Last month, the Guardian published a report saying Trump had told embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May in a phone call that he would delay his state visit this year until he had more popular support.
The fact that the state visit actually had to be pushed back demonstrates how unpopular Trump really is.
Trump is very unpopular in the UK
It’s no wonder that Trump is wary of visiting the UK — he’s incredibly unpopular there, and his visit would likely spark large protests. Ben Walker, founder of the poll-watching site Britain Elects, estimated that just “10 percent” of British people like Trump, reported Vox’s Zack Beauchamp.
In February of this year, 1.8 million people signed an online petition calling for the cancellation of Trump’s state visit the UK. The British government ended up formally rejecting the petition, but they got the message.
Indeed, Trump’s unpopularity and closeness with Prime Minister May might have even played a role in May’s astonishing loss of her party’s parliamentary majority in June’s election. May faced widespread criticism after meeting with Trump at the White House in January, where the two were photographed holding hands, for refusing to condemn Trump’s travel ban.
Trump’s recent unpopularity stems from his sharp criticism of London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan on Twitter following the terrorist attacks there in June that killed eight people. In a TV appearance the morning after the attack, the city’s popular mayor said, “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There's no reason to be alarmed.”
Trump deliberately mischaracterized Khan’s words as him downplaying the terrorist attack, so he mocked Khan on Twitter:
At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2017
While Khan did not respond directly, his spokesperson did: “[The mayor] has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump's ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks.”
Khan now joins the 1.8 million people who want to cancel Trump’s visit. Just two days after Trump tweeted, the mayor appeared on TV and suggested that the state visit should be canceled:
I don't think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for. When you have a special relationship, it is no different from when you have got a close mate. You stand with them in times of adversity, but you call them out when they are wrong. And there are many things about which Donald Trump is wrong.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, May’s opponent in the election who unexpectedly won big, also tweeted support for canceling Trump’s state visit on Sunday. He cited Trump’s feud with Khan and the decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accords:
Cancellation of President Trump's State Visit is welcome, especially after his attack on London's mayor & withdrawal from #ParisClimateDeal.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 11, 2017
While a state visit won’t happen this year, there’s no guarantee that Trump will ever be popular enough in the UK to avoid protests and receive a warm red-carpet welcome when a visit does occur.