Rishi Sunak dodges meeting Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis on London visit ‘amid fears about getting drawn into bitter fight with Donald Trump’
The Florida governor has been on a tour of key US allies as he tries to bolster his foreign policy credentials ahead of a potential run for the White House.
Mr Cleverly tweeted a picture of them together today, saying ‘welcome to London’.
Government sources told The Times there were ‘clear sensitivities’ given the furious battle looming between Mr DeSantis and Donald Trump.
However, Downing Street has pointed to logistical problems – as Mr Sunak addressed the Scottish Conservative conference this morning and is in Wales this afternoon.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted a picture of himself meeting Ron DeSantis today, saying ‘welcome to London’
Mr DeSantis was accompanied by a large entourage for his visit today
Downing Street suggested logistical problems were behind Rishi Sunak not meeting Mr DeSantis – as the PM addressed the Scottish Conservative conference this morning and is in Wales this afternoon
Mr DeSantis has not formally announced his pitch for the 2024 nomination, but he is considered the biggest threat to Mr Trump.
He has been stepping up his appeal to the Republican base, including by taking on Disney in Florida over its ‘woke’ positions.
Mr DeSantis and Mr Trump, once seen as allies, have increasingly been taking potshots at each other.
The former president has boasted that he is the runaway favourite among activists, with polls giving him double-digit leads.
However, some analysts regard Mr DeSantis as more likely to defeat Joe Biden in the US election in November next year, as Mr Trump turns off swing voters.
Mr Biden declared this week that he will be running to ‘finish the job’.
Mr DeSantis is expected to discuss the possibility of a trade deal between Florida and the UK during his meeting with Ms Badenoch.
Similar agreements have been struck with South Carolina and Oklahoma.
Mr DeSantis was at the Foreign Office to meet Mr Cleverly during his tour