To go or not to go, that’s a Trump question

trump press conference

Big pharma bosses, along with around 150 other business leaders, are facing a serious public relations question ignited by an invitation to a dinner hosted by Theresa May to welcome the American president to the UK.

Donald Trump is going to land in England on Thursday 12th July, marking his first official appearance in the UK as a presidential head.

The three-day, packed schedule includes meeting the Queen and a visit to Chequers. A game of golf and a quick trip to Scotland are also on the cards.

It is rumoured that Melania Trump will join her husband and the couple may be honoured by the Coldstream Guards when they meet the Queen at Windsor Castle.

One of the key points of this visit is a private dinner with business leaders, which is meant to show Trump the benefits and wealth of commercial opportunities with post-Brexit UK.

According to an article published by the Financial Times, the invitations have been delivered to dozens of business representatives, including Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder of Ineos, Larry Fink, head of BlackRock, and Richard Gnodde, CEO of Goldman Sachs International.

The extensive guest list also includes big pharma executives such as Alex Gorsky, chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson, and Emma Walmsley, the chief executive officer at GlaxoSmithKline.

The invitation has been seen by a number of CEOs as a catch-22. The presidential visit to the UK will be one of the most highly visible head-of-state visits to the UK to date and some of the invitees are weighing up the risks to their reputation of this private dinner.

According to an unnamed public relations specialist quoted by the Financial Times, some of the diners were asking whether they should attend as they are “aware of the potential downsides”.

A simple “no thank you” has already arrived from a few guests, including Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of, who told the Financial Times: “I understand why the government have to entertain Trump, but I certainly don’t want to.”

Tens of thousands of people are set to take their disapproval of the US president to the streets of London during the visit. The Greater London Authority has registered multiple protest-permit applications, including one for a “20ft high inflatable, orange baby depicting American president nicknamed ‘Trump Baby’”, which will be raised next to the Parliament on Friday morning.

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Piotr Wnuk