Donald Trump is “excited” about his upcoming state visit to the UK and will not be “intimidated” by demonstrations during his trip, the US ambassador to the UK has told Sky News.
Woody Johnson also rejected suggestions that the trip – which comes less than a year after the 45th president flew over for a working visit – was a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.
He said: “The more time you spend in a country and talking to people and that, the better.
“Especially since our countries are so closely aligned, frequent trips are good and it’s good to communicate with each other and see each other face-to-face and get a continued feel for what’s happening in Britain.”
Earlier, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said the trip, due to take place from 3 June to 5 June, risked being a “giant waste of taxpayers’ cash”.
But Mr Johnson rejected this, saying: “My reaction is I don’t know where that came from, but no, it’s never a colossal waste of anything to talk to your allies and talk to your friends and talk to your biggest business partner.”
Prime Minister Theresa May hailed the trip an opportunity for the two nations “to strengthen our already close relationship”, while the White House said it would “reaffirm the steadfast and special relationship” between the US and UK.
However, mass demonstrations against Mr Trump and some of his policies are likely.
“I think the president is not going to be intimidated or influenced by demonstrations if there are any,” Mr Johnson said when asked about the prospect of widespread protests.
“My own view is that the relationship between our two countries is very important for both of us, so having the president here is very beneficial for the British people and everything that our relationship represents, which is all positives.
“Rest assured, this country is very important to the president. His mother was born here, so he wants to keep you as allies and keep that relationship alive, well and prospering and growing.”
Further details of the programme for Mr Trump’s visit will be announced in due course.
The White House has already confirmed that the president will meet with the Queen and hold talks with Mrs May.
Mrs May and Mr Trump will then attend the D-Day events in Southsea Common, Portsmouth, before going to Normandy for further commemorative events.
Such occasions often include the visiting head of state addressing both Houses of Parliament, but Commons Speaker John Bercow said in 2017 that Mr Trump should not be allowed to make a formal address.
Lord Fowler, Mr Bercow’s counterpart in the House of Lords, has said there is a “strong case” for the US president being afforded such an honour.
When asked if Mr Trump should be allowed to address parliament, Mr Johnson sidestepped the issue.
He said: “I think I’ll leave that to the president. I think he’s going to work on broader issues in terms of the relationship, the security and prosperity of our two nations.
“He’s going to be here, he’s devoting three days to being over here, that’s a major time commitment. But I think it’s an important one.”
Source: SKY NEWS