Trump’s state visit to U.K. in flux as ‘biggest ever protest’ looms

President Donald Trump‘s first state visit across the pond has been challenged due to opposition from Parliament and left-wing groups. 

British media reports that Trump’s state visit could be pushed from June to as late as September when Parliament would be in recess. Trump may avoid London and the U.K.’s political establishment altogether and hold a ticketed rally in Birmingham, Cardiff, or a Brexit-friendly region of the country due to security concerns, according to the Telegraph. Great Britain’s “Stop Trump” coalition has promised U.K.’s “biggest ever protest” in anticipation of Trump’s state visit. 

A White House spokesperson said in an email to the Daily Dot on Monday that the president’s schedule for his state visit to U.K. has not been finalized. A press aide for the White House did not confirm reports that Trump will hold a rally in Birmingham.  

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow now faces backlash due to his veto last week of an invitation to Trump to address both houses of Parliament during the American president’s state visit to the U.K. Bercow, who is a member of the Conservative Party (the same party as Prime Minister Theresa May), said it was due to the parliament’s long- held opposition “to racism and to sexism.” Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn backed the veto and has called for Trump’s visit to the U.K. to be scrapped altogether

But both Bercow and Corbyn voted for Great Britain to remain in the European Union and risk being ousted in the wave of Brexit’s new political reality. In a 494-122 vote, the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly last week to begin exit talks to leave the European Union.

It is very rare for American presidents to address the U.K. Parliament at all due to its enormous political significance. Only Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan have done so in the past. Reagan±with the blessing of Prime Minister Margeret Thatcher—gave a version of his famous “Evil Empire” speech to the House of Commons in 1982, an occasion that solidified the “special relationship” between Great Britain and the United States. Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters in London greeted George W. Bush when he made his state visit in 2003. 

Obama made history by becoming the first U.S. president to address both houses of Parliament in Westminister Hall—a venue usually designated for the Queen of England, the Dalai Lama, or the Pope—during his state visit in 2011. 

No matter the details of President Trump’s visit to the U.K., the one thing he won’t be able to avoid is protesters. 

Owen Jones, co-founder of the Stop Trump Coalition, told the Birmingham Mail that Trump’s visit to the U.K. will guarantee the “biggest protest against racism and hatred” in our country’s history.

“It doesn’t matter where he goes,” said Jones. “We will march in our millions against him, and our government’s collusion, in every town and city in Britain.”

Amrita Khalid

Amrita Khalid

Amrita Khalid is a technology and politics reporter who specializes in breaking down complex issues into practical, useful terms. A former contributor to CQ, a Congressional news and analysis site, she's currently a master's candidate in international relations at the University of Leeds.