Donald Trump ‘fine’ with protests as UK visit begins

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Media captionUS President Donald Trump arrived at Stansted Airport for a two-day working visit

US President Donald Trump has arrived in the UK, having said he is “fine” about any protests during his visit.

Mr Trump and his wife Melania landed at Stansted on Air Force One at 13:50 BST before a helicopter took them to the US ambassador’s residence in London.

He is due to meet Theresa May, who is seeking a post-Brexit trade deal – days after he said the UK was in “turmoil”.

Extra security is in place to police a number of protests but Mr Trump said he thought Britons “like me a lot”.

Speaking at the Nato summit in Brussels before he arrived, Mr Trump said the UK was a “hot spot right now”.

Mr Trump, who will also spend time with the Queen during his two-day working visit, added: “You see what’s going on throughout the world with immigration… I think that’s why Brexit happened.”

He said “Brexit is Brexit” and the British people “voted to break it up, so I imagine that’s what they’ll do but maybe they’re taking a different route – I don’t know if that is what they voted for”.

Mr Trump has recently been under fire for his own immigration policy, which resulted in the separation of immigrant families.

His visit comes as the government publishes its plans for the UK’s relations with the EU after Brexit.

Earlier this week Mr Trump said it was “up to the people” whether Prime Minister Theresa May stayed on after two cabinet ministers resigned within hours over her Brexit policy.

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Mr Trump arrived at the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park by helicopter

Mr Trump travelled to the UK from the Nato summit, where he said member countries have agreed to increase their military spending.

He was met at Stansted Airport by dignitaries including International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and the US ambassador Woody Johnson.

The president and his wife will attend a dinner, hosted by Mrs May, at Blenheim Palace – the ancestral home of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill – in the evening.

A large police presence has been building up outside the palace and protesters bearing placards are starting to arrive, ahead of a planned demonstration at 17:30 BST.

Mrs May said the UK visit would be an opportunity to boost trade links and strengthen co-operation on security.

Along with trade and security ties, Downing Street said the other key areas to be discussed between the two leaders included Brexit and the Middle East.

Ahead of Mr Trump’s visit, Mrs May said that when the UK leaves the European Union “there will be no alliance more important in the years ahead”.

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The US president and first lady were greeted by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, the Queen’s representative and the chief operating officer of Stansted Airport

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They then departed on Marine One to travel to the US ambassador’s residence in central London

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Media captionSome of Mr Trump’s supporters and protesters have been explaining their motivation

Mr Trump had joked earlier this week that his meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital Helsinki on Monday “may be the easiest” part of his European trip.

Downing Street insisted Mrs May welcomed Mr Trump’s decision to “engage” with the Russian leader.

But she also warned Mr Trump not to ignore the “malign behaviour” of Russia.

Analysis

By James Landale, BBC diplomatic correspondent

Since Donald Trump took office, Theresa May has had to disagree with him publicly over his decision to impose trade tariffs on EU steel, abandon the Iran nuclear deal, move the US embassy to Jerusalem, order a Muslim travel ban and retweet anti-Muslim messages from a British far right group.

In turn, the US president has described Britain as being in political “turmoil”, criticised its defence spending and shown no enthusiasm for coming to visit: in the 18 months of his presidency, Mr Trump has chosen to visit 17 other countries first.

Whatever this relationship is, it can hardly be described as special.

So this trip is about ticking a diplomatic box, getting a visit out of the way before its further delay became politically embarrassing.

And as working visits go, it is on the minimal side: no Downing Street barbecue, no cabinet visit, no speech to both Houses of Parliament.

The diplomatic aim will be to get through the visit without any gaffes, without upsetting the president, and without him saying anything disobliging about Brexit or a future trade deal.

The UK and the US do have a good relationship at an institutional level, in the fields of defence, security and intelligence. The tricky bit is always the politics and the personalities.

About 150 guests are understood to have agreed to attend the dinner at Blenheim Palace, including cabinet members and business leaders.

Only one person, the digital entrepreneur and philanthropist Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, has publicly refused the invitation.

On Friday, Mrs May and Mr Trump will go to watch a joint counter-terrorism exercise by British and US special forces at a military base.

The pair will then travel to Chequers – the PM’s country residence in Buckinghamshire – for talks with the foreign secretary.

The president and first lady will travel to Windsor on Friday afternoon to meet the Queen, before flying to Scotland to spend the weekend at Mr Trump’s Turnberry golf resort. This part of the visit is being considered private.

The Police Federation has warned the visit will put “unquestionable pressure” on UK police forces as tens of thousands of people are expected to protest against the president in London on Thursday and Friday – and in Glasgow on Friday.

It has also complained that 300 officers working during the visit will have to sleep on camp beds in a gymnasium that has no hot water and restricted access to hot food.

The Police Commissioner for Lincolnshire later tweeted that “sadly” there were reports officers who put photographs of the “sorry conditions” on social media were being “sought out”.

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Security has been stepped up outside the US ambassador’s residence in London where Mr Trump is staying

Smaller demonstrations are also expected to be held across the UK, including Devon, Dundee, Edinburgh, Belfast, Norwich, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has granted permission for a giant inflatable figure depicting Mr Trump as a baby to fly over Westminster for two hours on the second day of the president’s visit.

But the balloon will not be allowed to fly over his Turnberry golf course, Police Scotland have said.





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