President Donald Trump will no longer go to the U.K. next month for his scheduled visit to inaugurate the new U.S. embassy in London, according to reports Thursday.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may go in his place for the opening of the $1 billion embassy, the Guardian reported, citing unnamed government sources.
The move came after concerns were raised that mass protests might break out against the president who had been slated for a ‘working visit’ to the country for the embassy’s opening. Trump was also expected to hold talks with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Feb. 26 -27.
He was not scheduled to meet the Queen until a full state visit on a later date. However, even the scaled down visit was canceled Thursday, Downing Street confirmed, according to the Telegraph.
Officials in the British government repeatedly called on May to withdraw the offer of a visit by the U.S. president after the two leaders engaged in a public diplomatic spat in November. Trump had rebuked May over her criticism of anti-Muslim propaganda on Twitter saying: "@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!"
The message came after May’s official spokesperson condemned him for retweeting several anti-Muslim videos posted by the deputy leader of a British far-right group, Britain First.
“The fact that we work together does not mean that we’re afraid to say when we think the United States has got it wrong and to be very clear with them,” May said, responding to Trump’s tweets. “I’m very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.”
Several protests groups had planned gatherings in London during Trump’s visit to protest against him for his remarks. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn also called out Trump over his tweets: “I hope our Government will condemn far-right retweets by Donald Trump. They are abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society,” he said on Twitter.
More than a million people had signed a petition last year calling for the state visit to be canceled.
However, according to the Telegraph, Trump had canceled his visit to the U.K. not just because of the possible protests but also because he was unhappy about the arrangements and the scale of the visit. The newspaper cited sources saying the cancellation was prompted by the lack of "bells and whistles" and the royal family not being involved.
A Downing Street spokesman told the Daily Mail Online that the plans of a possible visit by Trump were not off the cards entirely. "An invitation for a state visit has been extended and accepted,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also shot down suggestions that Trump’s visit should be scrapped following claims by Micahel Wolff in his tell-all book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” that the president would use the visit to "Trumpalise the Queen and Buckingham Palace."