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Boris Johnson to have minimal contact with Donald Trump during UK visit amid fears it could harm Tories

Boris Johnson will keep his contact with Donald Trump to a minimum during his two-day stay in the UK amid fears the US President could have a negative effect on the Tories’ election chances.

The White House said no formal bilateral meetings between the two men had been planned during a Nato 70th anniversary summit, even though Britain is hosting the event.

Downing Street sources said there was a need to “balance” the high-level summit with the general election, meaning meetings would be kept low key.

With the Tories’ lead over Labour currently narrowing in the polls, Mr Johnson is keen to avoid doing anything that could help Jeremy Corbyn.

Government sources said it was important that Mr Johnson does not leave himself open to accusations that he is using the Nato summit - and any meetings with Mr Trump - for party political gain.

President Trump, with his wife Melania, arriving in London on Monday night Credit: PAUL GROVER FOR THE TELEGRAPH

Mr Corbyn, who has accepted an invitation to a Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday where he could come face to face with Mr Trump for the first time, has already made clear that he will exploit the occasion to make fresh claims about the US wanting access to the NHS in any post-Brexit trade deal.

On Monday night he sent a letter to Mr Trump demanding he clarifies that “the NHS is genuinely off the table” in future trade talks.

Mr Trump, who arrived in London late on Monday night, will hold meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday before attending the reception at Buckingham Palace. The leaders of the 29 Nato member countries are also invited to a reception in Downing Street on Tuesday evening but Mr Trump has not yet confirmed his attendance.

Mr Trump and his wife Melania touched down in Stansted Airport on Monday night and were greeted by the US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, Lord Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst, Foreign Office representative David Pearey and the airport's director of airside operations, Nick Miller.

While aboard Air Force One, he tweeted that Nato spending had increased by $130 billion (£100 billion) since he had taken office.

He said: "The number of Nato allies fulfilling their obligations more than doubled."

On Tuesday, when the Nato leaders meet for a four-hour summit at a hotel near Watford, Mr Trump is expected to hold one-on-one meetings with Germany’s Angela Merkel, Italy’s Giuseppe Conte and Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen, but his only scheduled meeting with Mr Johnson is at a working lunch on Wednesday which will also be attended by leaders from Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Bulgaria.

Mr Trump is keen to push Nato countries to be more assertive in challenging China, particularly with regard to telecommunications firm Huawei and any involvement it has in 5G mobile networks.

The issues of how Nato deals with Russia and whether Turkey should still be a member state after it carried out military operations in Syria without consulting other members are set to be discussed.

Mr Corbyn will meet Nato leaders after it emerged that he tipped off representatives of war criminal Slobodan Milosevic in 1998 that Nato was planning military action to stop Serbia’s war with Kosovo.

The former Halifax MP Alice Mahon told Milosevic’s trial in the Hague in 2006 that she, Mr Corbyn and then Labour MP Tam Dalyell visited the Yugoslavian Embassy in London where they told a diplomat their “concerns” that Nato would launch military action and that the diplomat was “absolutely incredulous” at the idea that the UK would take part in any such action.

Ian Austin, the former Labour MP, said it was further evidence that Mr Corbyn “always picks the wrong side and backs our country’s enemies”.

It also emerged on Monday that Mr Corbyn had said he wished “Nato didn’t exist” less than a year before he was elected leader of the Labour Party.

The Labour leader, a longstanding critic of the alliance, said at a political rally in October 2014 that he was “no fan of western military alliances.” 

A clip of Mr Corbyn’s speech has now surfaced, in which he states: “I am no fan of Nato indeed I wish Nato didn’t exist. I am no fan of western military alliances. Indeed, I wish they didn’t exist.”