London: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says Donald Trump got his response to Charlottesville “totally wrong” and has all but confirmed the US President’s state visit to Britain will no longer go ahead this year.
Prime Minister Theresa May issued the invitation when she became the first leader to visit Mr Trump in Washington seven days after his inauguration.
At the time, she was sharply criticised by her political opponents and some Tory MPs for appearing too chummy with Mr Trump.
Before the UK election, Downing Street had insisted the visit would take place in 2017, but it never confirmed a date.
When asked on Friday by the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme when Mr Trump would visit, Mr Johnson said “can’t tell you that.”
But he conceded: “More likely 2018 than this year.”
The Guardian recentlyreported that Mr Trump told Mrs May he didn’t want to visit Britain if there would be protests against him, effectively putting the visit on hold.
Just two months ago Mr Johnson, who was formerly the mayor of London, said he saw no reason to withdraw the invitation to Mr Trump as his Labour successor Sadiq Khan has demanded.
Mr Trump has attacked Mr Khan on Twitter, most recently accusing London’s first Muslim mayor of being soft on terrorism.
The Foreign Secretary was more forthcoming when asked what he made of Mr Trump’s slow response in condemning the white supremacists who rallied at Charlottesville. The protests culminated in the death of 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer, who died when a car ploughed into the demonstration.
“I thought he got it totally wrong and I thought it was a great shame that he failed to make a clear and fast distinction which we all are able to make between fascists and anti-fascists, between Nazis and anti-Nazis,” Mr Johnson said.
The shelving of the state visit follows a fierce backlash against Mr Trump’s visit in Britain where the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow announced Mr Trump would be banned from addressing the palace of Westminster as past presidents, including Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, have done.
The decision was made after Mr Trump announced his travel ban targeting a selection of Muslim-majority countries and followed a debate in parliament after a petition calling for Mr Trump’s state visit to be rescinded resulted in 1.8 million signatures.
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