(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump should be welcomed to Britain because the nation’s relationship with the U.S. is crucial for security and gives the U.K. its “single most extraordinary economic relationship,” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.
Trump “is the elected president of the world’s most powerful democracy” and objecting to a visit risks “damaging the national interest,” he said. “He was voted into office by millions of Americans -- not bad people, but on the whole good and kindly people with whom we are connected by old ties of blood and friendship and with whom we have the single most extraordinary economic relationship.”
An invitation from Prime Minister Theresa May for Trump to visit the Queen has fueled growing opposition, stoked in part by the president’s Twitter criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan and his retweets of propaganda from a far-right British anti-Muslim group.
Trump this month canceled a visit to London to open a new U.S. embassy, saying the old site was sold for “peanuts” and the new building, in an “off location,” was a “bad deal.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump avoided the visit because he wants to let Prime Minister Theresa May to focus on withdrawing from the European Union.
Johnson’s focus on Britain’s trading relationship with the U.S. is seen as a riposte to politicians and businesses who are looking to remain in the EU, “effectively preventing the U.K. from striking new global trade deals,” the newspaper said.
The possibility of a Trump visit spurred opposition groups to vow protests and prompted John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, to say the president would not be welcome to address Parliament.
Trump could meet with May this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, although the trip is on hold while a funding dispute in the U.S. Congress has shuttered the government since early Saturday. White House spokesman Sarah Sanders in a email before the shutdown took effect said Trump “looks forward to having a bilateral meeting with” May to “further strengthen the U.S.–U.K. special relationship.”
Johnson also accuses Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Americanism and an “ignorance of this country’s economic interests” for encouraging protests against a Trump visit.
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