US President Donald Trump has told UK Prime Minister Theresa May he will not visit London for his controversial state visit until he is guaranteed a “better reception” amid fears of popular protests, a British newspaper has reported.
May extended Queen Elizabeth II’s invitation to Trump during a visit to the White House only a week after Trump’s inauguration on January 20.
Trump told May during a phone call that she should prepare a “warm welcome” before he agrees to set a date for a state visit, The Sun reported Saturday, citing the transcript of a conversation seen by high-ranking diplomats.
“I haven’t gotten great coverage there lately, Theresa,” Trump told May.
“Well, you know what the British press are like,” she responded.
“I still want to come, but I’m in no rush,” Trump said. “So if you can fix it for me, it would make things a lot easier. When I know I’m going to get better reception, I’ll come and not before.”
According to the British tabloid, May explained to Trump that she had no control over what the British media report about him.
Trump is deeply unpopular in Britain, and he would probably face wide-scale protests during a visit to the country. Recent surveys have found that more than half of people in the UK believe Trump is a threat to global stability.
Many activists in the UK, including some members of Parliament and trade unions, have vowed to hold the largest demonstrations in British history during any state visit by the US leader.
Nearly two million Britons have signed an online petition that calls on the UK Parliament to ban Trump from visiting the country.
UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called Trump a “threat” to the world and said he should not be allowed in to Britain because of his “reckless” policies, specifically his ill-fated visa ban against people from several Muslim countries.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan also called for the visit to be cancelled after Trump’s controversial response to London terrorist attacks, which involved direct criticism of the way the city was run.
The president has even avoided trips to his home in New York City, in part because of the potential for disruptions, as his poll numbers in the United States hit historic lows.
BBC confirmed last week that Trump had postponed the much-anticipated visit until next year and May’s team was exploring the available options to coordinate the visit with the White House.