Trump accepts Queen Elizabeth’s invite for UK state visit in June

In this Friday, July 13, 2018 file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain's Queen Elizabeth inspects the Guard of Honour at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. U.S. President Donald Trump will pay a state visit to Britain in June as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (AP)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Trump accepts Queen Elizabeth’s invite for UK state visit in June

  • The trip is likely to be controversial given many Britons deeply dislike Trump and reject his policies

LONDON: Donald Trump has accepted Queen Elizabeth’s invitation to make a state visit to Britain in June, becoming only the third US president to have been accorded the honor by the monarch, Buckingham Palace said on Tuesday.
The trip is likely to be controversial given many Britons deeply dislike the man and reject his policies on issues such as immigration. Protests involving tens of thousands of demonstrators overshadowed a visit by Trump to Britain last July and organizers said they were planning a “huge demonstration” against his state visit.
The opposition Labour Party strongly criticized Prime Minister Theresa May for pressing ahead with the state visit, which May offered to Trump when she became the first foreign leader to visit him after his inauguration in January 2017.
Trump and his wife Melania will visit from June 3-5, the palace said, adding that further details would be announced in due course. State visits are usually pomp-laden affairs featuring an open-top carriage trip through central London and a banquet at Buckingham Palace.
“The UK and United States have a deep and enduring partnership that is rooted in our common history and shared interests,” May said in a statement.
May, who is facing calls for her resignation from some lawmakers in her own Conservative Party over her handling of the country’s exit from the European Union, which is still stalled, will be hoping for strong backing for a post-Brexit US-UK trade deal.
The state visit would be an opportunity to strengthen already close ties in areas such as trade, investment, security and defense, she said.
During his trip last year, Trump shocked Britain’s political establishment by giving a withering assessment of May’s Brexit strategy. He said she had failed to follow his advice such as suing the EU but later said May was doing a fantastic job.
“This is a President who has systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite our two countries, and unless Theresa May is finally going to stand up to him and object to that behavior, she has no business wasting taxpayers’ money on all the pomp, ceremony and policing costs that will come with this visit,” Emily Thornberry, Labour’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Trump’s visit in June, which coincides with events to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France during World War Two, will include a meeting with May in Downing Street.

TEA AND PROTESTS
Last year, Trump was feted with a lavish dinner at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of the British World War Two leader Winston Churchill, and he and his wife also had tea with the queen at Windsor Castle.
The president then breached royal protocol by publicly disclosing details of a conversation he had with the 93-year-old monarch about the complexities of Brexit.
Trump’s state visit has been a divisive issue for Britons since May issued the invitation, with more than 1.8 million people signing a petition calling for him to be prevented from making such a trip, leading to a debate in parliament in 2017.
More than 100 protests were planned across the country during his visit last year and police had to deploy 10,000 officers, an operation that cost nearly 18 million pounds.
The largest protest in London attracted some 250,000 according to organizers, bringing much of the capital to a standstill.
They promised a “Together Against Trump” protest in June.
“He is a symbol of the new far right, a politics of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, of war and conflict, and walls and fences that are growing around the world,” said Shaista Aziz, from the Stop Trump coalition.
The queen, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, has met every USleader since Harry S. Truman except for Lyndon Johnson. Only two US presidents — Barack Obama in 2011 and George W. Bush in 2003 — have previously been invited for full state visits.
After leaving Britain, Trump will travel to France to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, the White House said.


Macron’s ambitions face test in high-stakes EU polls

Updated 1 min 56 sec ago
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Macron’s ambitions face test in high-stakes EU polls

  • The EU election represents a critical juncture for Emmanuel Macron
  • Sources close to Macron say a bad loss could prompt a major cabinet reshuffle
PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron this weekend faces a critical test of his ambitions to reform France and champion a liberal Europe in European Parliament elections where his own party risks losing to the far-right.
The latest opinion surveys show the far-right National Rally (RN) outpolling Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) by between 0.5-2 percentage points, after months where the two were neck-and-neck.
Analysts say that two years into his five-year term, the EU election represents a critical juncture for Macron and will influence whether the 41-year-old president can continue reforming in what he calls the “second act” of his time in office.
Macron has made no secret of the importance of the polls in France Sunday, telling regional newspapers this week the elections were the most important for four decades as the union faced an “existential threat.”
At stake is the youthful president’s vision of implementing further pro-business reforms in France, while emerging as a champion of more integration among EU member states.
Losing to Marine Le Pen’s RN — formerly known as the National Front — could be a glaring blow to those ambitions.
Sources close to Macron say a bad loss could prompt a major cabinet reshuffle, with the job of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe seen as being on the line.
“Symbolically, losing European elections in his own country would be seen as a repudiation of someone so pro-European,” said Sebastien Maillard, director of the Jacques Delors Institute think-tank.
“What is at stake for Emmanuel Macron is to have an influence in the future European parliament. This is not a given.”
Macron will find it tricky to challenge the dominance of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the 751-seat parliament.
His European allies, grouped together in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), may only end up with some 100 seats.
“If you don’t have a position in the European parliament then your European influence is limited,” said a French presidential official.
“This is what is at stake in the elections in the face of the nationalist risk.”
The elections also come at a prickly time in Macron’s relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is due to leave office in 2021 but who the French president wanted to cultivate as an ally in reforming Europe.
Merkel is unhappy with Macron challenging the EPP which she backs, while tensions have flared over Brexit, the choice of the next EU commission chief and France’s decision to increase its budget deficit.
“The European political landscape is very fractured, there is no leadership and Macron has not succeeded in imposing his,” said Jean-Thomas Lesueur, political scientist at the Franco-Belgian Thomas More Institute.
After an initial burst of optimism, the “Germans became disenchanted quite quickly,” he said.
The elections come with Macron still shaken after six months of sometimes violent anti-government protests by the “yellow vest” movement which prompted him to announce tax cuts for the working classes and a rise in the minimum wage.
The protests have shrunk in size, but Macron’s popularity ratings remain leaden with the president painfully aware his two predecessors both lasted only one term without leaving any major mark.
Sources said if the LREM falls behind the RN all eyes will be on the margin to determine the magnitude of the reaction.
“If there is nothing in it, behind or in front, I don’t see a reshuffle. But if we are three to four points behind the RN, or below 20 percent, people within the ruling party will start to ask questions,” said a person close to Macron, who asked not to be named.
“And this will require a change in personnel,” the source said.
A minister, also speaking on condition of anonymity, added: “If we are far behind the RN then things are going to shake. There will be a big reshuffle. I don’t see how we can lose the elections” and not change the prime minister.
For Brice Teinturier from the polling institute Ipsos in France, a victory for Macron’s party would give the government some “political oxygen” and capacity to allow reforms to continue.
“But if they are overtaken by the RN — and not just by 0.5 but two percentage points — this will be a failure and the capacity of the government to reform will be something that is merely hypothetical,” he said.