(Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has postponed a trip to the United States to meet U.S. President Donald Trump so he can stay at home to focus on delivering his domestic agenda, the Sun newspaper reported late on Thursday.
The decision to delay the trip would be a further blow to relations between the close allies who are set to begin discussing a trade deal, which Britain hopes will be one of the biggest prizes from its departure from the European Union.
The countries are divided on several issues, including Britain’s decision to allow the Chinese telecoms company Huawei [HWT.UL] a limited role in its mobile network, a proposed digital services tax, and the Iran nuclear deal.
Johnson was expected to visit Washington early this year. This has now been postponed until June when a summit of G7 leaders is due, according to the newspaper.
Downing Street did not have any immediate comment.
The dates for Johnson’s trip to Washington had never been finalised, according to one British official.
One of the biggest strains between the two countries came to the forefront last month after Britain granted Huawei a limited role in Britain’s 5G mobile network, frustrating a global attempt by the United States to exclude the company from the West’s next-generation communications.
The allies have also been increasingly at odds over Britain’s planned digital services tax, the U.S. government’s threats of more tariffs on goods and the fate of the Iranian nuclear deal — all areas in which Britain has been more aligned with European nations.
British media reported late in December that Trump had invited Johnson to visit him in the White House in the new year.
Trump had said Britain and the United States were now free to strike a “massive” new trade deal after Brexit.
A possible trade trip to Australia and New Zealand by Johnson has also been scrapped, the Sun reported on Thursday.
Reporting by Rama Venkat and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluro and Andrew MacAskill in London; Editing by Grant McCool and Matthew Lewis