LONDON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump flies into Britain on Thursday for talks with the chief of the United States’ closest ally in Europe and tea with Queen Elizabeth, towards a backdrop of protests and what he described because the nation’s turmoil over Brexit.
Fresh from a NATO summit the place Trump chided Germany and different European nations for failing to spend sufficient on defence, British Prime Minister Theresa May is hoping his journey will enhance the shut ties between their two nations and assist in forging a future free commerce deal.
“There is no stronger alliance than that of our special relationship with the U.S. and there will be no alliance more important in the years ahead,” May mentioned in a press release.
Trump’s journey coincides with a tumultuous week for May when two senior ministers resigned in protest at her plans for commerce with the European Union after Britain leaves subsequent March.
The president has already waded into the controversy, saying Britain was “in somewhat turmoil” and that it was as much as the individuals if she stayed in energy.
He additionally mentioned he may converse to Boris Johnson, who give up as overseas secretary over May’s plans for a business-friendly Brexit which was agreed by her cupboard final Friday solely after two years of wrangling.
Trump has lengthy been a Brexit supporter and has expressed enthusiasm for a wide-ranging commerce cope with Britain after it leaves the EU, one thing heralded by eurosceptics as being one of many nice advantages of exiting the bloc.
“Our trade and investment relationship is unrivalled – we are the largest investors in each other’s economies,” May mentioned. “This week we have an opportunity to deepen this unique trading relationship and begin discussions about how we will forge a strengthened, ambitious and future-proof trade partnership.”
Despite the welcome from May, many Britons stay deeply against Trump’s go to. A YouGov ballot on Wednesday confirmed 77 p.c had an unfavourable opinion of the president and simply 50 p.c thought his go to ought to go forward.
Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s chief within the Westminster parliament, regretted that the Conservative government will roll out the pink carpet for Trump.
“From the public, the welcome will be far from warm,” he informed lawmakers on Wednesday, noting there can be protests throughout the nation towards Trump’s “abysmal record on human rights, his repugnant attitude towards women and his disgusting treatment of minorities”.
However, Britain’s top-selling every day newspaper The Sun applauded May. “The Prime Minister has taken the right decision to treat Donald Trump with the respect his office deserves,” it mentioned on Thursday. “We look forward to his visit.”
A excessive fence has been erected across the U.S. ambassador’s central London residence the place Trump will spend Thursday evening and the embassy has despatched out an alert warning Americans in London to maintain a low profile in case protests flip violent.
More than 60,000 individuals have signed as much as show in London on Friday when protesters intend to fly a big balloon over parliament portraying Trump as an orange, snarling child.
A marketing campaign can also be underway to get “American Idiot”, a 2004 music by the U.S. punk rock band Green Day, to the highest of the UK Singles Chart.
On Thursday, Trump will travel to Blenheim Palace, the 18th-century stately home the place Britain’s World War Two chief Winston Churchill was born and spent most of his childhood.
May will host a black-tie dinner for Trump there that might be attended by senior ministers and about 100 business leaders, together with from Blackstone group, Blackrock, Diageo, McLaren and Arup.
The two leaders will maintain talks the next day at Chequers, the 16th-century manor home which is the prime minister’s official nation residence. These will give attention to relations with Russia, commerce, Brexit and the Middle East.
Later, Trump will go to Windsor Castle for tea with the 92-year-old queen. When he leaves Britain on Sunday, after a visit to Scotland the place he owns two golf programs, he heads to Helsinki for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
May welcomed the summit and mentioned it might assist handle “malign activity” by Russia.
“I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin,” Trump mentioned, itemizing his European itinerary when he departed the United States on Tuesday. “Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think?”
Reporting by Michael Holden; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Alistair Smout; modifying by Guy Faulconbridge and David Stamp