London, Oct 12 (PTI) US President Donald Trump’s proposed trip to the UK in early 2018 has reportedly been downgraded from the status of a grand state visit to a mere working one, according to media reports here.
It remains uncertain if the tour would include a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, which would have been at the heart of the pomp and show that accompanies a state visit traditionally hosted by the British monarch.
Trump is said to be planning a tour of European capitals to win backing for his tough stance on Iran and North Korea.
The controversy surrounding a state visit has reportedly been hampering efforts to include London on such a schedule, leading to speculation that Trump’s first trip to the UK may be in the form of a so-called working visit.
There had been widespread opposition to Prime Minister Theresa May extending an invitation for a state visit to Trump during her visit to Washington in January, days after he assumed office.
More than 1.8 million British citizens signed a petition against the plans, with House of Commons Speaker John Bercow taking the unprecedented step of making his views known that he would not be in favour of Trump addressing the UK Parliament during the visit.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan was also among vocal opponents of the state visit, saying he was not sure it was appropriate for the UK government to “roll out the red carpet” for Trump in the wake of his US travel ban on citizens of some Muslim- majority countries.
It has now emerged that the visit will be a more low-key event where Trump would be a guest of the US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, rather than the Queen.
Officials on both sides of the Atlantic tried to downplay this change of plans, claiming a full-fledged state visit was still on the cards.
“Our position on the state visit has not changed an offer has been extended and President Trump has accepted.
Exact dates for President Trump to visit have not yet been arranged,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
But the lack of any mention of a US presidential visit in the Queen’s speech earlier this year, which sets the agenda for all major visits hosted by the monarch, had confirmed that the trip had been postponed indefinitely.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.