President Trump will get red carpet treatment in UK — and big protests
LONDON — President Trump will get the red carpet treatment on his brief visit to Britain beginning Thursday: Military bands at a gala dinner, lunch with the prime minister at her country residence, then tea with the queen at Windsor Castle before flying off to one of his golf clubs in Scotland.
But trip planners may go out of their way to shield Trump from viewing another aspect of the greeting: an oversized balloon depicting the president as an angry baby in a diaper that will be flown from Parliament Square during what are expected to be massive gatherings of protesters opposed to Trump’s presence.
Rarely has a foreign leader been so mocked on an official visit. London’s mayor — a Muslim who has challenged Trump’s world view — OK’d the balloon, an apt symbol of Trump’s tempestuous relationship with Britain, traditionally the United States’ closest ally.
It is not simply the protesters, who are expected to dog Trump throughout his visit, including his weekend in Scotland, but his fraught relationship with political leaders accustomed to harmonious exchanges with US leaders, a tradition of unity that goes back at least to the vital World War II partnership of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
Trump may have ruffled feathers again when he said just before departing for Europe that the UK was in ‘‘turmoil,’’ suggesting it was ‘‘up to the people’’ to decide if Prime Minister Theresa May remains in power after a few days that saw her authority challenged by the resignation of two prominent Cabinet ministers protesting her Brexit policy.
He has clashed in the past with May — even though she is a fellow conservative who shares his view that defense spending should be hiked — and with her predecessor, David Cameron, who challenged Trump’s anti-Muslim campaign stance as ‘‘divisive, stupid, and wrong.’’
Labor Party legislator Paul Flynn, who has criticized Trump in Parliament, says Trump has outraged Britons — and people around the world — with his harsh treatment of immigrants.