Donald Trump in talks with Tory leadership hopefuls
The US president is expected to meet Michael Gove and had a phone conversation with Boris Johnson.
Donald Trump has spoken to Boris Johnson and is set to hold talks with Tory leadership hopeful Michael Gove in a sign that the White House is focusing diplomatic efforts on the potential next prime minister.
The US president called Mr Johnson and offered a one-to-one meeting, but the former foreign secretary is due to attend a leadership hustings on Tuesday night.
The Press Association understands the two men had a “friendly and productive” 20-minute call.
A source said: “Boris thanked him but declined the invitation as he has to focus on the hustings event that was happening at the same time, which the president understood.
“He said he looked forward to catching up at a later date.”
The details emerged as the president met with incumbent Theresa May and thousands of protesters gathered in central London with the Donald Trump baby blimp flying overhead.
Meanwhile, a source close to the Environment Secretary told the Press Association: “Mr Gove was asked last night by Mr Trump’s team if he would be able to meet the president today. He said yes.
“Nothing has been fixed yet.”
The source indicated the meeting was likely to be on a one-to-one basis, which could prove embarrassing to Mrs May as her talks with the president involved senior ministers and officials rather than just the two leaders.
Mr Trump’s efforts to engage with the Tory leadership contenders is a sign that the White House is already preparing for Mrs May’s departure from Number 10.
Ahead of the trip, Mr Trump had indicated he might also meet Nigel Farage.
Sources close to the Brexit Party leader refused to be drawn on whether he would meet the president.
As Mr Trump was communicating with the Tory leadership rivals, he also urged outgoing Mrs May to “stick around” and conclude a trade deal.
Earlier on day two of Mr Trump’s state visit, the president and Mrs May hosted round table talks with business leaders at St James’s Palace attended by the Duke of York, senior ministers, officials and senior representatives of five US and five British firms.
Mr Trump said the US was already the UK’s largest trading partner and that he believed there was scope for further expansion.
“I think we will have a very, very substantial trade deal. This is something you want to do and my folks want to do,” he said, adding to Mrs May: “Stick around. Let’s do this deal.”
As Mrs May and the president met, thousands of people marched on Whitehall to protest against the state visit.
Their action included flying the 20ft orange inflatable likeness of Mr Trump and a 16ft talking robot of the billionaire sitting on a gold toilet.
Labour MPs, including Rupa Huq and Tracy Brabin, were among those joining the protest before the leader of their party Jeremy Corbyn addressed the crowd.
In July last year, around 250,000 anti-Trump activists gathered when he visited the UK as US president for the first time.