Donald Trump's State Visit downgraded to 'working visit': report
Donald Trump's state visit to the UK has been downgraded to a 'working visit', according to London's Evening Standard.
The President's trip is set for the New Year, the reports suggest, and will avoid the pomp of an official state visit, usually reserved for a leader's second term. Instead it will be part of a wider foreign visit encapsulating a number of countries.
If the scaled down visit goes ahead the Archbishop of Canterbury could avoid the potentially awkward dilemma of whether to attend a state banquet at Buckingham Palace – a typical feature of full-scale state visits to which he would likely be invited.
News of the visit comes after heavy criticism of Theresa May's invitation for Trump to come to the UK with the full honour of a red-carpet visit that was planned for this summer.
However the invitation was suspended after uproar with a number of MPs, including House of Commons speaker John Bercow protesting against the move.
Bercow said the President would not be allowed to address the House of Commons – a common feature of state visits – because of his refugee ban, saying it was not 'an automatic right' but 'an earned honour'.
He told MPs: 'Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.
'After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.'
In a direct attack on Trump that prompted applause from some MPs, Bercow added: 'As far as this place is concerned I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.'
Justin Welby himself has not been afraid to criticise the President, calling his plans for a Muslim ban un-Christian and irrational and the prospect of avoiding a meeting with Trump may relieve the Archbishop.
'Policies that are based in fear rather than confidence and courage and Christian values of hospitality, of love, of grace, of embrace rather than exclusion, are policies that will lead to terrible results,' Welby said, attacking Trump's policies.
'When you mix up genuine threats to security with a dismissal of a whole range of communities out of fear, that's not good,' he said in an interview with LBC radio.
But when asked about the prospect of meeting Trump on a state visit, he added: 'If I had the opportunity to engage with [Trump], and to debate with him. I would consider it a great privilege to try to persuade him to change his views. I would be glad to have the opportunity to seek to persuade him that what he's doing, the way this is going, is out of fear.'
However the UK Foreign Office said a State Visit would go ahead at some stage. 'Our position on the State Visit has not changed – an offer has been extended and President Trump has accepted,' a spokesman said.
'Exact dates for President Trump to visit have not yet been arranged.'
A US embassy source denied there were any plans for a working visit.