The US ambassador to the UK has said he expects Donald Trump to go ahead with a working visit to the UK in the new year, despite a recent Twitter row with Theresa May over the terror threat posed by Muslims in the UK.
The remarks by Woody Johnson to the BBC’s Today programme represent the first official confirmation that the president is expected to visit in early 2018, when Trump may formally open the new American embassy.
A formal state visit – which would include a meeting with the Queen – is not envisaged. The Queen is likely to be preoccupied with preparations for a Commonwealth summit next year.
Johnson told the BBC the disagreement over Trump’s sharing of videos posted by the far-right group Britain First was “probably misinterpreted”.
The ambassador was being interviewed about the US embassy’s move from its current UK headquarters in Grosvenor Square in central London to a new £800m complex in Battersea, south of the river Thames. Johnson said the new embassy would need to be dedicated by an American president.
May said Trump had been “wrong” to share videos posted by Britain First, prompting the president to tell the prime minister to focus on her job.
Johnson, a close friend of the president, said Trump’s relationship with the UK was “very, very good”. The president had not yet set a date for the possible visit, he added.
Johnson said of Trump: “He understands the special relationship and while there may be disagreements about the way he says something or how he does something you can rest assured security and prosperity are very important.”
Asked about the Britain First tweet, he said: “The way I would look at [it] and the way he would look at it is that security is the number one oath protecting Americans here and in the US. … If you look at it in that context that is what is he trying to do.