Anti-Donald Trump protesters are preparing to spring into action at short notice, after it emerged that Downing Street is braced for a snap visit from the US president in the next two weeks.
A formal state visit, which was expected to take place over the summer, was postponed last month, amid fears that it could be disrupted by mass protests, despite Theresa May extending the invitation personally when she visited the White House late last year.
But Whitehall sources confirmed the government had been warned that the president could visit Turnberry, his golf resort in Scotland, during his trip to Europe, between attending the G20 summit in Hamburg next weekend and joining celebrations for Bastille Day in France on 14 July.
Trump would be expected to come to Downing Street to meet the prime minister for informal talks as part of any such visit – though final confirmation would be likely to be given with just 24 hours’ notice, to minimise the risk of disruption.
May invited Trump to Britain seven days after his inauguration when she became the first foreign leader to visit him in the White House. In February activists, MPs and trade unions vowed to hold the largest demonstrations in UK history if Donald Trump made a state visit to the UK, forming The Stop Trump coalition, even hiring a permanent staff member.
In early June, just after the UK general election, it emerged that the US president had told May that he did not want to go ahead with the state visit to Britain until the British public supports his coming, fearing large-scale demonstrations.
After the latest rumours of a presidential visit, the Stop Trump campaigner and Guardian columnist Owen Jones placed his Twitter followers on high alert, tweeting on Sunday night: “Donald Trump is planning to sneak into Britain to avoid protests. RT if you’re willing to commit to protesting this bigot at short notice.” Thousands responded by retweeting the post.
On his tour of Europe, Trump is breaking with tradition by visiting Poland ahead of the G20 summit, before he makes a presidential visit to traditional allies Britain, France or Germany.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a former Polish prime minister and founder of the ruling Law and Justice party, accused Britain of jealousy over Trump’s decision to visit Poland first. “We have new success, Trump’s visit,” he said. “Others envy it, the British are attacking us because of it.”
The rumours of President Donald Trump’s visit to the UK began as he was accused of encouraging violence against journalists after he tweeted a video of himself at a pro-wrestling event throwing a man with a CNN logo for a head to the floor.
The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Ben Jacobs contributed to this report