Trump trip to UK reportedly pushed off after anti-Muslim tweet dust-up
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Trump trip to UK reportedly pushed off after anti-Muslim tweet dust-up

Diplomat tells Telegraph that yet-to-be scheduled visit won't take place in near future as Britain fumes over videos shared from far-right leader

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the Oval Office of the White House on January 27, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the Oval Office of the White House on January 27, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

A planned trip by US President Donald Trump to Britain has reportedly been pushed off indefinitely after a verbal scuffle with British Prime Minister Theresa May over a series of anti-Muslim videos shared by the American leaders.

No visit has been announced, but an upcoming trip to London by Trump has been in the plans. May said Thursday she had issued an invitation and the president accepted, but “we have yet to set a date.”

Britain’s Telegraph reported Friday morning that the visit had been pushed off indefinitely and would not take place in the next two months.

“The idea of a visit has obviously been floated, but not December and not January. I would not expect a Trump visit in January,” the paper quoted a senior US diplomat saying.

Trump’s planned visit had already been widely protested by Brits opposed to the US leader’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, but Wednesday’s dust-up with May put new strains on the countries’ special relationship.

The tiff was sparked after the president retweeted three anti-Muslim videos that had been shared by a British far-right leader of the fringe group Britain First.

The tiny group regularly posts inflammatory videos purporting to show Muslims engaged in acts of violence, but without providing context or supporting information.

The UK ambassador in Washington, Kim Darroch, complained to the White House, and May’s spokesman said the president was wrong to retweet the group’s content.

Trump responded with a tweet urging May to focus on “the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom” instead of on him.

May countered Thursday that “we take the need to deal with the terrorist threat very seriously” and rebuked the leader of Britain’s closest ally.

“The fact that we work together does not mean that we are afraid to say when we think that the United States has got it wrong and to be very clear with them,” May said Thursday during a visit to Amman, Jordan. “I am very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was one of many politicians urging the government to scrap the still-unscheduled state visit by Trump that was first announced during May’s trip to Washington in January.

Khan, the British capital’s first Muslim mayor, said the American president had promoted “a vile, extremist group” and an official visit by him “would not be welcome.”

A White House official said Thursday that officials were still working on arranging a trip to Britain, even though none was “on the books,” The New York Times reported. The paper speculated that even a brief informal visit by Trump to mark the opening of a new embassy in London might now be off the table.

In the House of Commons on Thursday, lawmakers criticized Trump in unusually blunt language. Labour’s Naz Shah accused him of promoting “the hate-filled ideology of fascism.” Conservative Tim Loughton said Twitter should take down Trump’s account for peddling “hate crime.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday that she does not believe Trump knew anything about the deputy leader of Britain First, Jayda Fransen, before he shared the anti-Muslim videos from her account with his followers.

“I think he knows what the issues are, and that is that we have a real threat of extreme violence and terrorism, not just in this country, but across the globe,” Sanders said.

Emily Thornberry, the Labour Party’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, said May had made an error of judgment in inviting Trump so soon after he took office.

“We ought to be holding him at arm’s length,” Thornberry told Sky News. “She’s put the queen in this incredibly invidious position.”

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