Sussex copy of Declaration of Independence could be loaned to America after viewing by Donald Trump at Downing Street

West Sussex County Archivist Wendy Walker delivered a presentation to President Donald Trump, Melania Trump, First Lady of the United States, Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May. Photo: HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP/Getty Images
West Sussex County Archivist Wendy Walker delivered a presentation to President Donald Trump, Melania Trump, First Lady of the United States, Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May. Photo: HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump came in for some teasing when West Sussex councillors discussed the loan of a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence to Downing Street for his recent visit.

The document, known as the Sussex Declaration, was viewed by the President and Prime Minister Theresa May, under the watchful eye of county archivist Wendy Walker, after being transported to Number 10.

The Sussex copy of the American Declaration of Independence viewed by WSCC leader Louise Goldsmith

The Sussex copy of the American Declaration of Independence viewed by WSCC leader Louise Goldsmith

There was some tongue-in-cheek concern from county councillors that the treasure had made it back to Chichester safely.

Paul High (Con, Worthing West) said: “Can I be assured by the leader that Mr Trump who’s a little bit unpredictable, didn’t take it out of the case and put it in his jacket and take it back to America?

“Can I be assured that it’s back home safely in our records department?”

As laughter bounced around the chamber, leader Louise Goldsmith said: “It did cross our minds that would happen but I have to assure everybody that it is now back safe and sound in our records office.”

Read more: Here’s the moment Donald Trump and Theresa May were shown Chichester’s rare parchment of the American Declaration of Independence

Rare parchment American Declaration of Independence found in Chichester records office

While Simon Oakley (Con, Chichester East) jokingly asked for assurances that the Sussex Declaration would not be part of any trade deal, Dr James Walsh (Lib Dem, Littlehampton East) took a dig at the President’s questionable skill as an orator.

Dr Walsh said: “I’d be more comforted if I believed that President Trump could have actually read the Declaration of Independence and understood what it said, judging by his inability to read a prepared speech at several of the D-Day speeches with any degree of understanding what he was saying.”

Mrs Goldsmith told the meeting that there was a chance the Declaration would make the trip across the pond to America in a few years’ time.

She said: “I know there is a great interest from America now, that in the 250th anniversary of independence that the Declaration may go back to America on loan for a short time.

“We are obviously looking at that constructively because we know we have to have good relationships with our American partners.”

She also assured the meeting that the packaging and transport of the document to Downing Street was paid for by Number 10.