US President Donald Trump arrived in London on Thursday on his maiden visit to the UK during which he will hold bilateral talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May over closer post-Brexit ties, amid mass protests planned around Britain against his controversial policies.
Protests are expected against Trump, whose policies – including a travel ban on a number of predominantly Muslim countries, the detention of child migrants on the US-Mexico border and the imposition of tariffs on EU steel and aluminium exports – have all been criticised by the UK. Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump touched down in their Air Force One at Stansted Airport in the east of England from the NATO summit in Brussels, reports PTI.
Trump’s visit to the UK, the 12th US President to make such a tour, comes amid what he described as “turmoil” for the UK government, as Prime Minister May faces down rebellion from within her own party over her Brexit strategy. Earlier this week, Trump said it was “up to the people” whether the prime minister stayed on after two senior Cabinet ministers resigned within hours over her Brexit policy. The visit is seen as crucial at setting the course for a closer trading relationship between the two countries.
Along with trade and security links, Downing Street has said the other key areas to be discussed between the two leaders will include Brexit and the Middle East.
A brief visit to the newly-relocated US Embassy at Nine Elms in south-west London is also believed to be on the cards. Trump had infamously dubbed the new site as a “lousy location” when he decided to cancel a planned visit for its official opening earlier this year.
While the visit has not been accorded the formal State Visit grandeur, May will seek to make up for it with a gala black-tie dinner hosted by her for around 100 guests in the spectacular setting of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
The Trumps, as the guests of honour, will interact with leaders of UK business sectors, such as financial services, travel, creative industries, food and drink, engineering, tech, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and defence. Downing Street has said that the dinner, at the birthplace and ancestral home of Britain’s war-time prime minister Winston Churchill, is intended to “celebrate the strong business links between our two countries” at a time when the UK is hoping to strike a free trade deal with the US following Brexit.
Following the gala event at the 18th century country house, Trump and his wife will come to central London to spend a night at US Ambassador Woody Johnson’s official London residence, Winfield House, in Regent’s Park. An all-night noise protest – “Keep Trump Awake in London” – is due to take place outside Winfield House from 8 p.m. local time tonight, with the intention of causing a sleepless night for Trump.