PM to snub Trump af ter NHS storm

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Ja­son Groves and Larisa Brown

BORIS Johnson will not hold one-to-one talks with Don­ald Trump in a bid to pre­vent his visit knock­ing the Tory elec­tion cam­paign off course.

Mr Trump was due to ar­rive in the UK last night ahead of a two-day sum­mit of Nato lead­ers, start­ing to­day.

The prospect of the out­spo­ken US Pres­i­dent’s visit has been a nightmare for Tory strate­gists, who fear that one mis­placed com­ment or Tweet could dam­age Mr Johnson’s elec­toral for­tunes.

Mr Johnson last week ap­pealed to Mr Trump to avoid com­ment­ing on the UK elec­tion dur­ing his visit, say­ing: ‘When you have close friends and al­lies like the US and the UK, the best thing is for nei­ther side to get in­volved in each other’s elec­tion cam­paign.’

This week’s meet­ing, which marks Nato’s 70th an­niver­sary, comes as al­lies are at odds over Syria. Mr Trump has also de­manded mem­bers in­crease their mil­i­tary spend­ing. With French pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron locked in a war of words with Tur­key’s Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, Mr Johnson last night said the al­liance must re­main ‘united’.

Mr Macron has been crit­i­cal of Tur­key’s de­ci­sion to send troops into northern Syria fol­low­ing Mr Trump’s with­drawal of US forces from the area.

Down­ing Street yes­ter­day re­fused to con­firm if the two lead­ers would hold talks. But a se­nior Tory source last night said the Prime Min­is­ter would not have one-to-one talks with Mr Trump. The lack of a ded­i­cated meet­ing is thought to be un­prece­dented for a vis­it­ing US Pres­i­dent.

But min­is­ters want to avoid giv­ing Labour the op­por­tu­nity to re­cy­cle its dis­puted claims that the NHS would be ‘on the ta­ble’ in a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

Mr Cor­byn last night wrote sep­a­rately to both men urg­ing them to sus­pend trade talks un­til it is taken ‘off the ta­ble’.

Labour sources sug­gested Mr Cor­byn would at­tend a re­cep­tion for Nato lead­ers at Buck­ing­ham Palace this af­ter­noon. The Cam­paign for Nu­clear Dis­ar­ma­ment, of which Mr Cor­byn is a vi­cepres­i­dent, will hold a demon­stra­tion against Mr Trump’s visit out­side the palace with a num­ber of NHS work­ers.

But Tory con­cerns go be­yond the NHS row. There are fears Mr Trump could weigh in on last week’s ter­ror at­tack or Brexit. He is ex­pected to hold a press con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day when will likely be quizzed on Bri­tish pol­i­tics.

Mr Johnson will for­mally wel­come Mr Trump to the sum­mit and will be pic­tured with him at the Nato event.

Mean­while, ex­perts last night claimed the leak of clas­si­fied Bri­tish-US trade doc­u­ments on­line re­sem­bled a Rus­sian dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign un­cov­ered this year.

Last week, Mr Cor­byn said the doc­u­ments – first shared on­line in Oc­to­ber – showed the Tories were plot­ting to of­fer up the NHS for sale. But re­searchers said the way they were shared mir­rored a cam­paign which used fab­ri­cated or al­tered doc­u­ments to spread false nar­ra­tives.

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