US President Donald Trump has arrived in Britain for a four-day visit during which he will meet UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth ll, but will avoid the capital where massive protests are planned against his policies.
Trump’s plane landed Thursday at Stansted airport, in Essex, arriving from Brussels, where he had spent two days at the NATO summit.
The US president is due to remain in the UK until Sunday evening, when he will head to Helsinki, the capital of Finland, for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump will largely avoid London and other major cities that could host significant protests. He will instead be kept mainly insulated from the public at various country estates or palaces.
The planned nationwide demonstrations against Trump have been launched by a collection of different organizations protesting everything the populist leader stands for including sexism, racism and Islamophobia.
“Donald Trump and Theresa May are running scared of protest,” said Shaista Aziz, from the Stop Trump Coalition.
“Last year hundreds of thousands took to the streets at barely a day’s notice in disgust at Trump’s Muslim Ban. If Trump actually comes to London, we could be looking at a march of millions. This won’t just be a movement against the President’s visit – it will become a movement against racism, anti-migrant bigotry, sexism, and far-right politics in the UK,” she said.
The protestors have found creative ways to express their disgust at Trump, such as a giant crowd-funded inflatable balloon of a “baby Trump” wearing a diaper which will float high over London within full view of the press, Trump’s entourage and eight million local Londoners.
“Donald Trump is an open racist and sexist, a volatile and dangerous character who seems set on taking the West into further wars. Together we will put on a massive united show of opposition to him,” said Maz Saleem, from Stand Up to Trump.
The main London protests will start from Thursday and will continue throughout the weekend until Trump leaves for Helsinki.
Trump has made special efforts to avoid the protests, including an unprecedented presidential boycott of central London. But protests have been planned to follow his movements across the UK, stalking his every move.
A “working visit”
Although Trump’s historic visit has been classed as a “working visit” rather than a “state visit,” he will still use the opportunity to meet with British officials and discuss issues including post-Brexit trade deals, the Middle East, Russia and other geo-political issues with the UK government during the tour.
He traveled straight to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire where Theresa May will host Trump and his wife Melania for a so-called black-tie dinner with ministers.
On Friday, Trump will travel to the prime minister’s country home, Chequers, for bilateral talks and later in the afternoon will meet the Queen at Windsor Castle, located about 32 kilometers (20 miles) west of London.
He will then leave England to spend the rest of the weekend in Scotland.
Trump, who owns a golf club on the outskirts of Aberdeen, also has family ties from his Scottish-born mother who emigrated to the US in the 1930’s.
Trump has become famous for his offensive rhetoric and hardline stance on many issues. According to a recent YouGov poll, there is broad support from the UK public for the so-called “working visit.”
In total, half of Britons polled think the visit should go ahead, compared to just over a third who think it should be cancelled.
However, two thirds of Britons still think Trump has either been a “terrible” or “bad” president. While just 16 percent think he has been “average” and only 13 percent rate him as either “good” or “great.”
The UK public are also concerned that Trump’s poor performance isn’t just bad for Americans, but for everyone else as well.
While 47 percent think the Trump’s presidency is bad for the US, as many as 61 percent also think it has been bad for the rest of the world, and 64 percent think his tenure so far has been bad for international relations.
In addition, the British public aren’t particularly fond of the US president’s personal character. Three quarters of the public think that he is a sexist and 63 percent think he is a racist.
Meanwhile, just 16 percent think he is honest, just 38 percent think he is a strong leader, and only 25 percent think he is charismatic.
At a NATO press conference in Brussels, Trump insisted he was popular in the UK, citing his strong line on migration. “They like me a lot in the UK. I think they agree with me on immigration.”