Boris Johnson postponed a White House visit planned for next week after a furious phone call during which President Trump accused the British prime minister of betraying him over Huawei.
It is the latest sign of a tense relationship between two leaders many thought would forge an easy, populist, transatlantic alliance.
However, two sources told the Washington Examiner that Johnson’s plans for a visit at the end of next week, when the British Parliament is in recess, were shelved after a contentious telephone call last week.
It is understood that Trump abruptly ended the call after accusing Johnson of “betrayal” for ignoring American warnings and pushing ahead with allowing Chinese tech giant Huawai to take a role in the United Kingdom’s 5G phone network.
It is one of a number of issues that have soured relations, including Washington’s refusal to extradite Anne Sacoolas, accused of killing a British teenager in a road accident.
White House officials said the meeting had never been scheduled, while British officials tried to downplay any suggestion of a snub.
It means their first meeting since last year’s British general election is expected to be at the G-7 summit at Camp David in June.
A No. 10 source used a Lord of the Rings reference to an all-seeing figure to say the prime minister wanted to focus on domestic issues.
“When the Eye of Sauron is off the Whitehall machine, things stop working,” an official told the Sun newspaper. “That is why he has stripped down all his foreign travel this year to get his agenda done.”
Whitehall is where British ministries and the prime minister’s residence are located.
Despite the blowup, a British official said the visit would occur at a later date.
“The PM looks forward to visiting the U.S. and will remain in touch with the administration,” he said.
Johnson won a surprisingly robust majority in December’s British election. Striking a free trade deal with Washington is an important priority as Britain finds its place in the world after leaving the European Union.