Thousands gather in central London to protest Trump’s visit as UK PM hosts the US president at Chequers.
Thousands began protesting in London as British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed US President Donald Trump to her official country residence for a meeting that is expected to be unusually tense, after he trashed her Brexit plan in a newspaper interview.
Following a visit to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst on Friday morning, Trump flew to Chequers in Buckinghamshire by helicopter to avoid the protesters who are demonstrating his visit.
Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from Buckinghamshire, said that Trump’s helicopter landed around 10:00 GMT ahead of the meeting. He is expected to hold a joint press conference with May after their meeting.
May has already faced a turbulent week, with cabinet resignations and bitter in-fighting in her Conservative party.
The US president questioned her handling of Brexit in an interview with The Sun tabloid, published on Thursday.
Trump had said that May’s plan would “probably kill the deal” as it would mean the US “would be dealing with the European Union” instead of the UK.
On Friday, Trump said his relationship with May is “very, very strong” even after his comments to The Sun.
Al Jazeera’s Lee described Trump’s interview as “absolutely incendiary”.
“If he actually says these things standing next to her [at the press conference], then basically she’s toast in terms of the plans that she currently has,” he said, adding that May is already under “enormous pressure” from her partymates, who are against her deal with the EU.
In the interview, Trump also said that Boris Johnson, former Foreign Secretary and potential leadership challenger to May, would make a “great prime minister”, adding “I think he’s got what it takes”.
|Protesters for the ‘Stop Trump’ Women’s March gather in London on Friday [AP]|
Trump baby blimp lifts off
In central London, thousands of people have started to gather to protest Trump’s visit.
A blimp depicting Trump as a baby is flying outside parliament, and dozens of other demonstrations are planned across the UK.
Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker, reporting from London, said Trump is seen as a “divisive figure” by the protesters.
“These demonstrators gathering here on Parliament Square see him as a bigot, as a racist, as a xenophobe, as a misogynist,” Barker said.
At the centre of the demonstration is the giant six-metre-high balloon, which was cleared by the London mayor’s office to fly over the centre of the city. Organisers raised 18,000 British pounds (almost $24,000) from crowdfunding.
Trump’s schedule, however, will largely keep him out of central London.
Later on Friday, the president was due to pay a visit to Windsor Castle where he and First Lady Melania Trump will have tea with Queen Elizabeth II.
Trump is also expected to spend a private weekend in Scotland with his wife, where he owns two golf resorts.
|Tens of thousands are expected to protest in central London [Tolga Akmen/AFP]|