Protests expected in central London as May hosts Trump

Queen hosted banquet for US president on Monday but opposition leaders steered clear

Theresa May and Donald Trump at Chequers in July 2018. Photograph: Hannah McKay/File Photo/Reuters

Protesters against Donald Trump are expected to shut down parts of central London on Tuesday, the second day of the president's state visit to Britain. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will address the demonstration, which will start at Trafalgar Square as Mr Trump meets Theresa May nearby in Downing Street.

The president began his visit by launching a fusillade of tweets against London's mayor Sadiq Khan, who had compared him to a 20th-century fascist leader. Tweeting from Air Force One as it came in to land at Stansted Airport, Mr Trump said the mayor had been "foolishly nasty" in criticising him.

“He is a stone-cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me,” he said.

"Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, [Bill] de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height. In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!"


Queen Elizabeth welcomed Mr Trump and his wife, Melania, at Buckingham Palace with full ceremonial honours, including a guard of honour and a 41-gun salute. After lunch at the palace, the president laid a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

The queen hosted a state banquet for Mr Trump at Buckingham Palace on Monday night but Mr Corbyn and other opposition party leaders stayed away.

Trade deal

Earlier, the president tweeted enthusiastically about his reception in London and talked up the prospect of a trade deal between the UK and the US after Brexit.

“London part of trip is going really well. The queen and the entire royal family have been fantastic. The relationship with the United Kingdom is very strong. Tremendous crowds of well wishers and people that love our country. Haven’t seen any protests yet, but I’m sure the Fake News will be working hard to find them. Great love all around. Also, big Trade Deal is possible once UK gets rid of the shackles. Already starting to talk!” he said.

Mrs May, who will resign as Conservative leader on Friday, will join the president on Tuesday morning at a business round table with representatives from firms including BAE Systems, GlaxoSmithKline, Barclays, Lockheed Martin and Goldman Sachs. Mr Trump has pursued an aggressive trade policy, imposing or threatening tariffs on China, the EU and Mexico, but the prime minister will make the case for rules-based free trade.

“With a bilateral free-trade agreement, with broader economic co-operation, and by continuing to work together to underpin, shape and influence the global economy and its rules and institutions – keeping markets free, fair and open, and keeping our industries competitive. There are opportunities to seize, and there are challenges we need to work together to tackle. Today, let us look at how we do both,” she is expected to say.

Bilateral talks

Mrs May will reinforce her message in support of multilateral institutions with her gift to the president, a framed typescript draft of the Atlantic Charter. The charter was agreed by Franklin D Roosevelt and Winston Churchill when they met in Newfoundland in August 1941 and set out their goals for a post-war world order in one of the first steps towards the formation of the United Nations.

Downing Street played down the absence of any scheduled one-on-one meeting between Mrs May and Mr Trump, who will be accompanied by their delegations for bilateral talks on Tuesday before giving a joint press conference. The president will be in Portsmouth on Wednesday for a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times