Donald Trump has spoken to Boris Johnson and is set to hold talks with Tory leadership hopeful Michael Gove in a sign that the White House is focusing diplomatic efforts on the potential next prime minister.
The US President called Mr Johnson and offered a one-to-one meeting, but the former foreign secretary is due to attend a leadership hustings on Tuesday night.
The Press Association understands the two men had a “friendly and productive” 20-minute call.
A source said: “Boris thanked him but declined the invitation as he has to focus on the hustings event that was happening at the same time, which the president understood.
“He said he looked forward to catching up at a later date.”
Meanwhile, a source close to the Environment Secretary told the Press Association: “Mr Gove was asked last night by Mr Trump’s team if he would be able to meet the president today. He said yes.
“Nothing has been fixed yet.”
The source indicated the meeting was likely to be on a one-to-one basis, which could prove embarrassing to Theresa May as her talks with the president involved senior ministers and officials rather than just the two leaders.
Mr Trump’s efforts to engage with the Tory leadership contenders is a sign that the White House is already preparing for Mrs May’s departure from Number 10.
Ahead of the trip, Mr Trump had indicated he might also meet Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.
Sources close to the Brexit Party leader refused to be drawn on whether he would meet the president.