London awaits Trump’s visit, braces for protests

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    A helium-filled Trump blimp is expected to be deployed during the president’s visit [Simon Dawson/Reuters]

    US President Donald Trump is due to arrive in the United Kingdom for a four-day visit amidst a flurry of political turmoil and planned protests against him.

    Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania, will land at London’s Stanstead airport after attending a NATO summit in Brussels.

    The trip includes meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May, who has described the US as Britain’s strongest ally, and is determined to secure a trade deal after the country acts on Brexit and leaves the European Union in March 2019.

    “When we leave the European Union we will begin to chart a new course for Britain in the world and our global alliances will be stronger than ever,” May said ahead of Trump’s visit.

    “There is no stronger alliance than that of our special relationship with the US and there will be no alliance more important in the years ahead,” the British leader said.

    May’s government has recently been shaken following at least three resignations of senior members of her cabinet – including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Minister David Davis, following disagreements on how to exit the EU.

    Baby blimp Trump

    Tens of thousands of people are expected to protest against Trump’s visit in central London on Friday, citing his alleged Islamophobia, controversial policies and “incendiary rhetoric” towards people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community.

    A giant six-metre-high blimp of Trump depicted as an orange baby in nappies is also expected to fly over the capital.

    The blimp, which has been given permission by the capital’s city hall to be flown above Parliament Square gardens, raised £18,000 (or almost $24,000) from crowdfunding sources and has been described by former far-right UKIP party leader Nigel Farage as the “biggest insult to a sitting president”.

    The organisers behind the blimp however, said they were just “poking fun” and “hope Trump sees it”.

    Yet Trump’s schedule will largely keep him out of central London. His meeting with Theresa May will take place in her Chequers country residence on Friday, followed by tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.

    Trump will then spend a private weekend in Scotland with his wife, where he owns two golf resorts.

    UK-US spats

    The US president’s brash style and hard line “America First” policies have caused consternation across Britain’s political spectrum and society.

    He was severely criticised last November, including by May, after sharing three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos posted by far-right group Britain First.

    His criticism of Britain’s anti-terror policies after a series of attacks in 2017 also did not go down well.

    Opposition MPS, backed by an online petition signed by nearly 1.9 million people, called on May to cancel the state visit offered when she met Trump in Washington after his inauguration in January last year.

    View the original article:

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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