President Donald Trump’s anticipated trip to Britain seems to be off, following no mention of the trip during Queen Elizabeth II’s address before parliament on Wednesday.
Known as the Queen’s Speech, the address traditionally serves as the main event during the opening of parliament, during which Britain’s monarch delivers a speech on behalf of the government, laying out planned-for legislation. Upcoming state visits from foreign leaders are also typically mentioned during the event. But the Queen failed to note Trump was coming — leading many commentators to conclude the trip may be off.
That speculation is warranted — in no small part because several British leaders, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, have made it clear they don’t want to host Trump. Khan has been particularly vocal. Following an extremist attack that left eight people dead and 48 injured, Khan told the city’s residents that they were likely to see an uptick in security.
“Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days,” Khan said. “There’s no reason to be alarmed.”
A short while later, Trump took to Twitter, rephrasing Khan’s comments and accusing the mayor of being overly blasé about the attack:
At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2017
Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his "no reason to be alarmed" statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
A spokesperson for Khan dismissed Trump’s words. “The mayor is busy working with the police, emergency services and the government to coordinate the response to this horrific and cowardly terrorist attack and provide leadership and reassurance to Londoners and visitors to our city,” the spokesperson said.
Khan later remarked that inviting Trump to the United Kingdom would be in poor taste. “I don’t think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the U.S.A. in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,” he told U.K. broadcaster Channel 4. “When you have a special relationship it is no different from when you have got a close mate. You stand with them in times of adversity but you call them out when they are wrong. There are many things about which Donald Trump is wrong.”
While Khan’s feud with Trump hasn’t helped the U.S. president’s popularity in Britain, the London mayor is far from the only U.K. leader voicing opposition to a visit. May told the public in January that Trump had agreed to visit Britain later in the year, an announcement that met with immediate backlash. In February, John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, told lawmakers he opposed a Trump visit. “I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump,” he said, citing the U.S. leader’s “sexism” and “racism”, while singling out Trump’s Muslim ban in particular.
The debate soon took center-stage in parliament, after protests occurred and nearly 2 million people signed a petition asking lawmakers to deny Trump a formal state visit, arguing that it would “cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the queen.” (Notably, parliament has received leaders like Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and Zimbabwe’s authoritarian President Robert Mugabe.) A counter-petition calling for the visit to be allowed garnered 300,000 signatures; only 100,000 signatures are needed for parliament to take up an issue.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has stood firm on inviting Trump, which makes sense — leaving the European Union could cost Britain access to the bloc’s single market and customs union, making close economic ties with the United States crucial. But Trump is aware of his unpopularity in Britain; in early June, he reportedly called May to say he was uninterested in a visit that might spur large protests. Many took the call as a sign that the visit was cancelled, including opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who tweeted his relief, citing Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and attacks on Khan as red flags:
Cancellation of President Trump's State Visit is welcome, especially after his attack on London's mayor & withdrawal from #ParisClimateDeal.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 11, 2017
Britain isn’t the only country to sour on Trump. French President Emmanuel Macron shared a “white-knuckle” moment with the U.S. president in May, during which the two leaders gripped hands in an apparent show of physical aggression that Macron later said was intentional. Trump’s ongoing back-and-forth with German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also dominated headlines, with Merkel going so far as to warn Europeans last month that the United States could no longer be counted on as a partner.
“The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out,” said Merkel, adding, “we Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.”