US President Donald Trump is likely to visit the UK in 2018, the US ambassador to London has said.
The ambassador, Woody Johnson, said he believed relations between the US and UK administrations were strong despite a disagreement between Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May when the President shared anti-Muslim videos posted by a British far-right group.
Johnson said he was hopeful about the prospects of a visit. “Absolutely, I think he will come,” he told the BBC in an interview broadcast Tuesday.
Relations between London and Washington have been strained since May admonished Trump for retweeting the videos posted by Britain First last month. Trump retaliated by attacking her on Twitter.
Several British lawmakers including London Mayor Sadiq Khan have urged May to withdraw an invitation for a state visit that she made soon after Trump was inaugurated last year.
In his BBC interview, Johnson said the President’s social media spat with May was “probably misinterpreted.” He insisted the relationship between Trump and the UK was still “very very good,” and said he expected a visit to go ahead.
“It hasn’t been officially announced, but I hope he does.”
Trump ‘ruffled feathers’
May’s overtures to woo the US have left her in a difficult position. With a view to strengthening Anglo-US relations after Brexit, May was the first world leader to meet Trump after his inauguration.
But the visit went down badly at home. She was widely criticized for taking Trump’s hand while walking at the White House, while she was also derided for offering him the invitation of a state visit so early in his presidency.
Since then, the decision has come under further scrutiny as Trump has made a series of criticisms of British policy, culminating in the spat over the anti-Muslim videos.
There has been speculation in the British media that instead of a full-scale state occasion involving a banquet hosted by the Queen, Trump’s first official trip to the UK could take the form of a lower-key “working visit.”
Any visit by Trump to the UK would likely be met with large-scale protests.
The ambassador acknowledged that Trump had raised hackles in the UK. “There’s no question that maybe some feathers were ruffled,” he said.
But Johnson defended Trump’s robust communications, adding that while there “may be disagreements,” he would not be “namby-pamby” about expressing his views.