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World

AFP
July 13, 2018

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Huge protests to greet Trump as he arrives in Britain

LONDON: US President Donald Trump has arrived in Britain for a four-day visit during which he will meet UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth ll, but will avoid the capital where massive protests are planned against his policies.Trump’s plane landed on Thursday at Stansted airport, in Essex, arriving from Brussels, where he had spent two days at the Nato summit.

The US president is due to remain in the UK until Sunday evening, when he will head to Helsinki, the capital of Finland, for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump will largely avoid London and other major cities that could host significant protests. He will instead be kept mainly insulated from the public at various country estates or palaces.

The planned nationwide demonstrations against Trump have been launched by a collection of different organizations protesting everything the populist leader stands for including sexism, racism. As Britain braces for mass protests over the visit of Donald Trump, a west London pub has become an island of support for the divisive American president -- even temporarily renaming itself The Trump Arms.

Alongside the name-change in his honour the Jameson pub, in Hammersmith, has been decked out in the United States’ stars and stripes flag and is throwing a "welcome party" for the commander-in-chief.

Inside, a life-size replica of the president stands alongside plenty of red "Make America Great Again" hats. The watering hole is expecting up to 300 people who will have paid £32 (euros, $) to attend Saturday’s Trump-themed bash, when it will serve up American favourites such as burgers and hot dogs.

Damien Smyth, the landlord, told British media he felt compelled to take such a pro-Trump stance because he "doesn’t deserve this disrespect being shown to him". The Irish-born publican has reportedly taken particular dislike to controversial plans to fly a giant baby-shaped balloon bearing Trump’s features above Britain’s parliament on Friday morning.

Some 77 percent of Britons have an unfavourable view of Trump, according to a poll by YouGov with 1,648 respondents. Matthew Taylor, 53, had travelled from the county of Kent outside London to soak up the pre-party atmosphere Thursday, donning a red Trump hat.

He shared the pub manager’s sentiment that the US president should be receiving a warmer welcome -- and not a "Trump Baby" balloon in the skies over London. "I respect the right to (free) expression," he said, but added: "It is childish and disrespectful".

Taylor added the pub had raised enough money to make a similar balloon depicting London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who angered Trump loyalists by permitting protesters to fly their blimp above the British parliament.

Other long-time regulars at the bar told AFP there was a silent majority in Britain who actually backed the presidential visit.

"I’m very happy he is coming," said one drinker. "There are more people supporting Trump than people not supporting him."

"Let’s not forget that we voted for Brexit about immigration and Trump’s main issue is also immigration," added the attendee, who asked to remain anonymous.The UK public are also concerned that Trump’s poor performance isn’t just bad for Americans, but for everyone else as well.

While 47 percent think the Trump’s presidency is bad for the US, as many as 61 percent also think it has been bad for the rest of the world, and 64 percent think his tenure so far has been bad for international relations.

In addition, the British public aren’t particularly fond of the US president’s personal character. Three quarters of the public think that he is a sexist and 63 percent think he is a racist.

Meanwhile, just 16 percent think he is honest, just 38 percent think he is a strong leader, and only 25 percent think he is charismatic.

At a Nato press conference in Brussels, Trump insisted he was popular in the UK, citing his strong line on migration. “They like me a lot in the UK. I think they agree with me on immigration.”

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