Protests gear up to greet Trump on UK state visit

Protests gear up to greet Trump on UK state visit
The US President lands in Britain on Thursday as part of a four-day state visit, widely opposed by campaigners against his hardline policies.
2 min read
12 July, 2018
The 'Trump Baby' protest balloon will fly to protest his state visit [AP]

Donald Trump arrives in Britain on Thursday for his first visit as US president, flying into a whirlwind of protests.

The four-day trip, which will include talks with Prime Minister Theresa May, tea with Queen Elizabeth II and a private weekend in Scotland, is set to be greeted by a mass protest in London on Friday - even featuring a giant "Trump baby" balloon.

Despite a series of diplomatic spats between Britain and Trump, the British government is hoping for a quick trade deal with the US after it leaves the European Union.

"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.

'Trump Baby'

His visit has sparked opposition since May invited the president to a prestigious state visit when she became the first world leader to meet Trump at the White House following his inauguration.

Comment: Anti-Trump protests must reject his politics, not just his personality

The US president's brash style and hardline "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 lawmakers, backed by an online petition signed by nearly 1.9 million people, called on May to cancel the state visit, which is estimated to cost between £8m and £10m in security and policing.

A mass demonstration called "Together Against Trump" by left-wing campaign groups is organised for Friday, with a giant balloon of Trump depicted as a crying baby in a nappy set to fly next to the British parliament.

May hosts Trump on Thursday for a black-tie dinner with business leaders at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Second World War prime minister Winston Churchill, and on Friday, the pair will visit a defence site before travelling to the prime minister's Chequers country residence for talks followed by a press conference.

Trump then heads to Windsor Castle later Friday for tea with Queen Elizabeth II.

He will spend the weekend with wife Melania in Scotland, where he owns two luxury golf courses.