A Government minster has said he would be “deeply uncomfortable” about a Donald Trump state visit amid reports a ‘working visit’ by the US President had been dropped.
On BBC’s Question Time, Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said the US President would be “divisive at a time when we are trying to unite our country”, making him the first Tory frontbencher to make clear opposition to Trump’s proposed trip.
His comments came as the Daily Telegraph reported US diplomats have ditched plans for Trump to conduct a visit in January.
The idea was for Trump to formally open America’s new London embassy in a scaled-down visit that would have meant no meeting with the Queen.
The ‘special relationship’ between the two countries is under strain after the president hit back at the PM, who criticised him for retweeting propaganda from far-right extremist group Britain First.
In the House of Commons on Thursday, MPs from across the political spectrum urged Theresa May to rescind the UK’s invitation.
Labour MP Stephen Doughty accused Trump of being “racist, incompetent, unthinking, or all three” and, on the Conservative benches, Reddich MP Rachel Maclean said MPs were “all disgusted” by Trump’s actions.
But Gyimah’s comments appeared to up the ante considering his position in May’s Government.
“What Donald Trump did recently, I think has definitely crossed a line. And it takes great bravery to stand up to your enemies. It takes even more bravery to stand up to your friends.
“And I think Theresa May was right to rebuke him on Twitter for his comments, in his retweets of Britain First. We are a tolerant and decent country. We are open. And I think it’s right that she did that.
“In terms of whether or not Donald Trump comes to this country, I am personally deeply uncomfortable about it. I am deeply uncomfortable because he is deliberately divisive, and this would be divisive at a time that we are trying to unite our country.
“The invitation has been sent, it has been accepted. It’s above my pay grade in terms of what happens next, but I think I am deeply uncomfortable about it.”