The trek, coming more than a year and a half into his presidency, does not have the trappings of a state visit. Still, activists, members of Parliament, and the mayor of London are angry about their American guest.
The president’s visit comes after his participation in the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium. At the NATO headquarters, Trump addressed his relations with the U.K. and insisted that it “loves [him].”
“The U.K. loves me, in fact my mother was from the U.K., they love me there even if they are not treating us well with trades, but they will,” he said. “They like me a lot in the U.K.”
Widespread protests opposing President Trump’s stay begin Thursday evening and continue through Friday night. London Mayor Sadiq Khan – who has had a particularly contentious relationship with President Trump – approved protesters’ use of a “Trump baby” blimp during the president’s visit to Great Britain. The blimp, which depicts the president as a giant, orange child in a diaper, will fly over Parliament for two hours on Thursday.
The 2004 Green Day hit, “American Idiot” is now skyrocketing to the top of the U.K. charts ahead of the visit – a boost fueled in large part by the efforts of British protesters and social media.
AFP/Getty ImagesActivists inflate a giant balloon depicting US President Donald Trump as an orange baby in north London on July 10, 2018.
(MORE: British protesters hustling to send Green Day song “American Idiot” to the top of UK charts ahead of Trump’s visit)
(MORE: Activists plan giant ‘Trump Baby’ balloon to protest his UK visit)
A coalition known as Together Against Trump has been the chief organizer of the opposition effort. In a statement, the group said it was a “victory that Donald Trump does not appear to have any official engagements in London.”
“Instead he will stay hidden away in country estates and castles,” the statement read.
U.K. prime minister Theresa May will not attend any demonstrations but she has been critical of her American counterpart. Just a few weeks ago, she called the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy “wrong.”
“The pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing,” May stated to the House of Commons.
Yui Mok/Getty ImagesBritish Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II attend the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace on April 19, 2018, in London.
The president’s trip follows the NATO summit. After arriving in Great Britain Thursday evening, Trump and the first lady will dine with May and her husband at Blenheim Palace. On Friday, the two leaders will participate in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference. Trump will then meet the Queen at Windsor Castle.
Although this is Trump’s first official visit to the U.K., he has been invited before.
Like this go-round, protesters promised widespread backlash back in February amid the president’s plans to travel to London for the grand-opening of a new U.S. embassy. When Trump canceled his plans a few weeks before the big day, some – like London Mayor Sadiq Khan – speculated that the expected opposition scared off Trump and was happy about it.
“It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city’s values of inclusion, diversity, and tolerance,” mayor Khan said in January. “His visit…would, without doubt, have been met by mass peaceful protests.”
Cliff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesMayor of London Sadiq Khan greets spectators on Regent Street at the start of the 2017 Pride in London Parade through the West End on July 8, 2017.
The president, in contrast, claimed that he called off his trip because of his predecessor’s decision to sell the old embassy for “peanuts,” a “bad deal” in his eyes.
In June of last year, Trump mocked Khan for his handling of the London Bridge terror attack and called him “pathetic.” The incident resulted in seven deaths and more than 50 injuries.
Khan responded to Trump’s pointed tweets in a television appearance on BBC.
“Some people thrive on feud and division. We are not going to let Donald Trump divide our communities,” he said.
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