Donald Trump is gearing up for a hostile reception in London and laments that he used to love the city.
London-based NGO Amnesty International unfurled a huge banner calling Trump a “human rights nightmare” on the Vauxhall Bridge in London on the eve of his visit.
Met Police were expecting giant protests ahead of the president’s brief visit to the capital, with some sources putting the number of protesters expected as high as 200,000. Scotland Yard had initially banned protesters from having a PA system but have now relented after being threatened with a legal challenge.
— The Hill (@thehill) July 13, 2018
Other rallies will take place in Glasgow and Manchester. A woman’s march is planned for London and will end in Trafalgar Square.
A Scottish group called Stand up to Racism (SUTR) were already protesting outside Trump’s golf course in Aberdeen where his son Eric was visiting. It is not clear whether Trump senior will visit the course.
A poll conducted on 11 July found 77% of respondents had an unfavourable opinion of Trump and only 50% wanted his visit to go ahead.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has played down tensions between Trump and May after the president’s earlier comments that May’s soft Brexit plan would sink the US-UK trade deal.
“The President likes and respects Prime Minister May very much,” Sanders said. “He thought she was great on NATO today and is a really terrific person. He is thankful for the wonderful welcome from the Prime Minister here in the UK.”
— CNN (@CNN) July 12, 2018
Previously, Trump had brushed off the possibility of protests and told a press conference: “I think they like me a lot in the UK.
“I think they agree with me on immigration. I’m very strong on immigration…I probably at least partially won an election because of immigration.”
‘Trump baby’ balloon
Anti-Trump protestors have captured attention with a six-metre large balloon depicting Trump as a sullen nappy-clad baby. London mayor Sadiq Khan gave permission to its owners for it to fly in London to coincide with Trump’s visit. More than 10,000 people signed a petition urging authorities to let the balloon fly.
Scottish authorities denied the balloon permission to fly over Trump Turnberry because an air exclusion zone was in place in the area during Trump’s visit.
Trump in the UK: The rules around aerial protests https://t.co/tSaHU6jn4R
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) July 12, 2018
Trump said the balloon’s presence made him feel “unwelcome” in the English capital and was one reason he was not spending much time there.
Trump has been at odds with Sadiq Khan and hit out at him in a recent interview, saying the mayor had failed to stand up to terrorists.
— New York Post (@nypost) July 13, 2018
Trump said Khan was partly to blame for what was expected to be a frosty reception for the president in London.
“I think he has not been hospitable to a government that is very important. Now he might not like the current President, but I represent the United States.”
Woody Johnson, a US ambassador to the UK, was forced to hose down suggestions Trump had been effectively forced out of London by the mass protests.
“The president is not avoiding anything,” Johnson said. “The president is merely trying to get as impactful a trip as he can get in a 24-hour period.”
What is Trump doing on day two of his UK visit?
Trump has scheduled a number of official meetings for Friday 13 July local time. His appointments include:
- An inspection of a military defence and training facility
- Foreign policy talks with Theresa May followed by a news conference at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country residence
- Tea at Windsor Castle with the Queen
- An evening visit to Scotland where he will possibly play a round of golf at one of his golf resorts, Trump Turnberry the following day