Donald Trump’s deteriorating relationship with Britain is likely to kill off any lingering cabinet hopes of a swift post-Brexit trade deal with the United States, a former British ambassador to Washington has warned.
Sir Nigel Sheinwald said that a series of controversial interventions by the US president in British issues meant that the remote prospect of a quick transatlantic deal, heralded by pro-Brexit cabinet members, should now be “put out of our minds” for good.
His intervention comes as a new poll highlights the British public’s opposition to Trump in the wake of his decision to cancel a trip to the UK, with fewer than a fifth of voters (18%) believing he is a friend of Britain.
Almost three-quarters of voters (72%) also believe that the US president is a risk to international stability, according to a new Opinium poll for the Observer. A similar proportion (71%) believe he is untrustworthy. Two in five voters believe that Trump should not be visiting Britain at all.
The dim view taken by the British public over the outspoken president comes after Whitehall insiders suggested that the clashes he has had with Britain over the last year contributed to his decision to cancel a visit to open the new US embassy in London. A mass protest had also been expected during Trump’s visit, which would have marked a further embarrassment for the president.
The special relationship between the UK and US has taken a series of hits since Theresa May became the first foreign leader to visit President Trump at the start of last year. Trump has attacked the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, re-tweeted posts by a British far-right group, and publicly turned on May for criticising his comments.
Trump confirmed on Twitter last week that he had cancelled a trip to open the new US embassy in Vauxhall because he disagreed with the process of moving it from Mayfair to an “off location” south of the Thames. While he blamed the Obama administration, the deal was signed under George W Bush’s presidency. In an extraordinary intervention, the US embassy itself took the step of releasing a detailed statement correcting the president. The highly unusual move is a sign of the tensions between Trump and his international diplomats.