Theresa May is facing pressure from within her own Government to cancel Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK after one of her ministers said the US President had “crossed a line”.
Sam Gyimah, the Justice Minister, said he would feel “deeply uncomfortable” if the visit went ahead after an unprecedented row broke out between Mrs May and Mr Trump over the latter’s decision to retweet far-Right anti-Muslim propaganda.
Mrs May said that Mr Trump was “wrong” to have promoted the material originally posted by Britain First to his millions of Twitter followers.
But the US President hit back and said Mrs May should not “focus on me” but on the “destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom”.
The comments prompted a diplomatic storm with UK politicians from various parties lining up to criticise Mr Trump and to call for his state visit to be cancelled.
Mrs May remained tight lipped yesterday on the issue as she refused to say the visit could be cancelled and instead said an invitation had been “extended and accepted by the President”.
But Mr Gyimah suggested that invitation should be withdrawn.
Appearing on the BBC’s Question Time programme, he said: “I think what Donald Trump did has definitely crossed a line and it takes great bravery to stand up to your enemies, it takes even more bravery to stand up to your friends and I think Theresa May was right to rebuke him on Twitter for his comments and his retweets of Britain First.
“We are a tolerant and decent country, we are open and I think it was right that she did that.
“In terms of whether or not Donald Trump comes to this country, I am personally deeply uncomfortable about it, I am deeply uncomfortable because he is deliberately divisive and this will be divisive at a time when we are trying to unite our country.
“The invitation has been sent, it has been accepted. It is above my pay grade as to what happens next. But I think I am deeply uncomfortable about it.”
Meanwhile, Cabinet sources told The Sun that Mr Trump’s actions meant a state visit was now “highly unlikely” because “the people would make their views known”.
.@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2017
The US President had been pencilled in for a “working visit” in the new year to open the new US embassy in London.
The trip, a scaled-down version of a state visit with no meeting with the Queen, was intended to allow Mr Trump to come to the UK and avoid the protests a full state visit would be likely to trigger.
However, that trip has been postponed indefinitely, with no new date planned.
A senior US diplomat said: “The idea of a visit has obviously been floated, but not December and not January. I would not expect a Trump visit in January.”