UK

Trump UK visit expected in new year, US ambassador says

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Media captionWoody Johnson tells Today the US president was not "namby-pamby" about voicing his opinions

The US ambassador to Britain says he expects Donald Trump to visit the UK in the new year despite his recent Twitter row with Theresa May.

Woody Johnson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the disagreement was "probably misinterpreted".

Mrs May had said Mr Trump was "wrong" to share videos posted by the far-right group Britain First, prompting an online backlash from the US president.

Mr Johnson said Mr Trump's relationship with the UK was still "very very good".

But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the visit would be "massively opposed in Britain" and a full state visit should be "absolutely off limits".

Sir Vince told the BBC Mr Trump had been "openly abusing and insulting our own prime minister."

Image caption Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Vince Cable, said a state visit should "off limits"

The US ambassador said Mr Trump had not yet set a date for the visit - which could be scaled back to a working trip, where the president would not meet the Queen.

"Absolutely, I think he will come," Mr Johnson told Today.

"It hasn't been officially announced, but I hope he does.

"I think it's a very very good relationship," he said.

Speaking of Mrs May's visit to the Oval Office in January, he said: "The prime minister was his first visitor, the first official foreign leader to visit."

There were calls for a reciprocal visit to be abandoned after Mr Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos last month.

When a Downing Street spokesman said he had been "wrong" to do so the president hit back, telling Mrs May to focus on "destructive" terrorism in the UK.

Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, opposes the visit and said British people deserved a special relationship that works "both ways".

"By sharing and promoting videos by Britain First he's undermined our democratic process and put at risk people in our communities," she told Radio 4.

"He didn't listen to our own prime minister who said this is not acceptable."

Former NFL tycoon Mr Johnson - who has known Mr Trump for 35 years - said he was "familiar with these kinds of emotions people have" from his background in sport.

He accepted there "may be disagreements" over how the president says or does things, agreeing that Mr Trump was not "namby-pamby" about expressing his views.

"Maybe he'll ruffle feathers - there's no question that maybe some feathers were ruffled."

'Serious offence'

Mr Johnson, who took up his post in September, responded to comments from Twitter users at the time of the row, writing of a "long history" of "speaking frankly" between the US and UK.

Sir Christopher Meyer, a former British ambassador to the US, said withdrawing the invitation now would give "serious offence" to many people in the States, including those who did not vote for Mr Trump.

"But I think it will be a highly circumscribed visit when it does go ahead," he told Today.

The security risks - including the risk of protests and public disorder - will be "very great," he added.

"US investment in the UK creates (up to) two million jobs, let's think about the essentials and not the fisticuffs above the surface," Sir Christopher said.

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