Today Donald Trump becomes the first US President to visit the United Kingdom since the Brexit referendum, yet it appears as though his visit will tackle anything but a post-Brexit Britain.
Trump arrived in the UK last night following the NATO summit in Brussels, where the controversial President spent time scolding other world leaders for not adequately contributing towards NATO, writing on Twitter that it is ‘not fair’ that the United States are ‘spending far more’ than the other member states.
Those hoping Trump would take a softer tone to diplomacy once on British shores – on account of our ‘special relationship’ – were sorely disappointed when ‘The Donald’ kicked off by taking shots at recent cabinet resignations before he even touched down at London Stansted Airport.
Speaking in Brussels, Trump stated he was going to a ‘pretty hot spot right now’ in the UK, with ‘lots of resignations’, suggesting that his tone when in Britain is set to be anything but friendly.
The President followed up his criticisms of Theresa May’s government by offering outward looking Brexiteers hoping for a US-UK trade deal some harsh truths, in what is perhaps the only time he has echoed an Obama sentiment. Trump suggested that the government’s current ‘soft’ Brexit plan will see them struggle to achieve a deal with the USA, reiterating Obama’s ‘back of the queue’ remark that caused so much controversy amongst Brexiteers in 2016.
However, Trump’s brash criticism of one of America’s strongest allies is perhaps not the most contentious element of his UK visit, with significant protest planned throughout his stay, something not seen with previous presidential visits to any significant scale.
The ‘Trump baby’ balloon is simply the most notable of a series of protests that are set to underline his time in the UK, with a crop circle written in Russian saying ‘F— Trump’ also being carved in Buckinghamshire, a clear nod to the President’s alleged illegal ties to Russia.
These large-scale individual protests are set to be matched by street protests in London and elsewhere to show their disgust at policies of child separation and Trump’s use of social media to bully opponents.
Although Trump’s trip to the UK is largely a working visit, with Trump and May set to hold a joint press conference today – whilst also discussing issues such as Brexit and trade – the President is also set to make his first visit to Trump Turnberry since before the 2016 election, in which he narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton, despite losing the popular vote.
Despite fears about security costs, Donald Trump is set to fly to Prestwick Airport tonight and spend the weekend at his resort, showing his lax attitude to presidential work, so often lambasted in America, continuing whilst on British soil.
Donald Trump’s visit north of the border has brought significantly more controversy than his visit to London, as both the Scottish authorities and the public resent having to pay for his security when on a leisure visit to his own property.
Despite the clear opposition to his visit, Donald Trump appeared unphased, stating that ‘they like me a lot in the UK’ only angering anti-Trump protesters further.
Although Donald Trump’s UK visit is the most controversial of any president in modern history, it is a welcome distraction for both the President and the Prime Minister, who have both faced questions about their ability to lead in recent weeks. Theresa May needs the visit to strengthen her hand following a series of resignations and possible leadership challenges, whilst Trump can use the visit to distract from questions about his ties to Russia which have been rife ahead of his meeting with Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
Although both are undoubtedly hoping for a smooth and uncontroversial visit, it remains to be seen whether the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States remains special, or whether Trump’s practice of damaging key alliances will continue this weekend.