Donald Trump to snub Theresa May for second time in Davos
Donald Trump is poised to snub Theresa May for the second time this month after it emerged he has no plans to meet her at next week’s World Economic Forum in Davos. The Prime Minister had been hoping for a “clear the air” meeting with Mr Trump at the Swiss resort after the US president unexpectedly cancelled plans for a visit to Britain.
Presidents and prime ministers do not usually attend the Davos summit, where chancellors and finance ministers take centre stage, but Whitehall sources had previously revealed plans to “engineer an encounter” between Mrs May and Mr Trump after they both announced they would be attending.
However, the White House has been lukewarm on the idea, saying Mr Trump has no time to meet Mrs May, even though he will meet Emmanuel Macron, the French president. Downing Street has now all but given up hope of a meeting taking place.
Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, added to the intrigue by claiming Mr Trump had cancelled his visit to Britain because Mrs May needed to “focus on Brexit”. Mr Trump had said he pulled out because of cost overruns on the new US Embassy in London, which he had been due to open.
A year on from Mrs May’s hand- holding moment with Mr Trump at the White House, the “special relationship” between the US and the UK has cooled, and British diplomats will be concerned that Mr Trump’s latest apparent snub signals that it has reached a new low, putting hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US at risk.
Government sources blamed a “diary clash” for the meeting not taking place, initially claiming Mr Trump would not arrive in Davos until Friday, while Mrs May is there on Wednesday and Thursday. But an official communique from the White House disclosed that Mr Trump will arrive on Thursday morning, which suggests diary dates are not the real issue.
A White House source told The Daily Telegraph that there was not time in Mr Trump’s schedule to meet the Prime Minister, despite him being in Davos for two days.
“It is an extremely quick trip,” said one Trump source, adding that the president would only be spending “a very short amount of time” at the event.
The source said there was “desire” from both the US and the British end to see the two leaders meet, but that the lack of time was getting in the way. However, the US media has reported that Mr Trump – who announced his attendance last week – has already arranged a meeting with Mr Macron, one of the speakers at the event.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is also believed to be attending, and would expect to be given a slot with Mr Trump.
No official details of either Mrs May’s meetings in Davos or Mr Trump’s meetings have been released.
Mr Trump will be the first US president to attend Davos since Bill Clinton in 2000.