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Trump says protests are ‘fine’ during visit to ‘hotspot’ UK

Trump’s comments on Brexit and the UK made news before his arrival. He described the UK as a “hotspot” and a country in turmoil, referring to the recent resignations of cabinet ministers David Davis and Boris Johnson.

world Updated: Jul 13, 2018 09:30 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Trump visits UK,Trump's UK visit,David Davis
US president Donald Trump, from left, Theresa May, UK prime minister, and her husband Philip May watch a live military performance by the bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards ahead of a dinner at Blenheim Palace in UK on Thursday. (Bloomberg Photo )

Insisting that Britons “like me a lot”, president Donald Trump arrived in London on a four-day visit that seeks to reiterate the “special relationship” between the US and UK.

Most of Trump’s engagements are away from London, where thousands of people are taking to the streets to protest against his policies. A balloon depicting a baby Trump was allowed to fly over London by mayor Sadiq Khan. The six-metre balloon has also received permission to fly over Scotland, when Trump travels there for a private stay over the weekend.

Trump’s visit is not a state visit, but has been described as “official”, which means there is no pomp and pageantry. After arriving at London Stansted Airport, Trump was greeted by international trade secretary Liam Fox and travelled to the US ambassador’s residence, where he will spend the night.

Trump’s comments on Brexit and the UK made news before his arrival. He described the UK as a “hotspot” and a country in turmoil, referring to the recent resignations of cabinet ministers David Davis and Boris Johnson. However, he insisted he is “fine” with the protests planned.

Indirectly criticising prime minister Theresa May’s recent pro-EU Chequers plan on Brexit at a news conference in Brussels, Trump, who favours Brexit, said he would not interfere in the internal affairs of the UK, but said: “I would say Brexit is Brexit.”

“The people voted to break it up so I imagine that is what they would do, but maybe they’re taking a different route. I’m not sure that’s what they voted for,” adding that he had been reading up closely on Brexit in recent days.

He described the UK as “a pretty hot spot with many resignations”, adding: “They like me a lot in the UK. I think they agree with me on immigration”, even as a series of anti-Trump messages were highlighted in public places in London.

Trump, whose mother is from Scotland and owns property in Britain, is on his first to the UK as president, while May was the first foreign dignitary he met in Washington after his election.

Reiterating the US and UK’s “special relationship”, May said: “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 UK and the US already have a uniquely close partnership in the fight for democracy and global security and we share a global outlook across the vast majority of foreign policy issues.

“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.”

Trump will be hosted by May at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire at a banquet on Thursday evening. On Friday he will witness a demonstration of the UK’s military capabilities and integrated UK-US military training outside London.

He will then travel to Chequers for bilateral talks with May on a range of foreign policy issues including Russia, trade, Brexit, and the Middle East, before meeting Queen Elizabeth in Windsor and leaving for Scotland.

First Published: Jul 13, 2018 08:25 IST