Tens of thousands on UK city streets in Donald Trump protests
Snarling orange ‘Trump baby’ blimp flies outside British parliament
Tens of thousands of people poured through the centres of London, Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast on Friday, united in their rejection of the visit to Britain of the US president, Donald Trump, who admitted the protests had made him feel unwelcome.
There was a carnival atmosphere with music, dancing, the bashing of pots and pans and a forest of often witty, sometimes crude placards.
The tone was set in London by a four-metre-high orange Trump baby blimp that was floated above Parliament Square, and placards with slogans such as “No Fan of Fake Tan Man”, “How Dare You Combover here” and “Free Melania”. But there was anger too at what many perceived as Trump’s racism, misogyny and climate change policy.
The former deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, and the current and former Labour leaders Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband joined the protesters in the capital who numbered over 100,000, according to the organisers of two marches that converged on Trafalgar Square.
Corbyn attacked the US president for his comments on Thursday that Boris Johnson would “make a great prime minister”, saying it was “not his business who the British prime minister is”.
Addressing a packed Trafalgar Square, Corbyn said: “We are asserting our rights to democracy, our rights to freedom of speech and our rights to want a world that is not divided by misogyny, racism and hate.”
Among the Americans who turned out was Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for the US adult film star Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Trump. Avenatti said he was there to send a message to “our brothers and sisters here in the UK and around the world that . . . there’s millions of Americans that are outraged by his conduct and by his behaviour.”
In Soho in London, a group of house music DJs including A Guy Called Gerald performed on a giant sound system under the banner “No to Brexit, no to Trump, no to Theresa May”. The actor Laura Carmichael, who played Lady Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey, held an “End Violence Against Women” banner.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside City Hall in Belfast and thousands gathered at George Square in Glasgow.
Among them were Roberta Logan (32) and her sons Magnus, six, and Aidan, three. “It felt important to bring them today to teach them to stand up against things that are wrong,” Logan said.
There were tiny pockets of support. One man in a Trump 2020 T-shirt held a “Welcome President Trump” placard close to Parliament Square in London, and there were also some Trump supporters in Windsor.
A pro-Trump march in central London is planned for Saturday, which will join a rally in support of Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the far-right English Defence League, who is in jail for contempt of court.
Scotland Yard is prepared for counter demonstrations. At the last such event, five police officers were injured when bottles and metal barriers were thrown at them.
Trump did not come close to the protests himself, as he had a working lunch at Chequers with Theresa May and tea with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, before a weekend of golf at two courses he owns in Scotland. Ahead of the UK visit he had said: “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London”.
‘Feed him to the corgis’
Several protesters seemed worried about queen’s safety with the US president in Windsor, holding placards urging Trump not to grope her. Another implored her to “feed him to the corgis”.
Emily Darnell (40), an executive assistant from Haywards Heath in West Sussex, made a banner that tipped its hat to Mary Poppins, reading: “Super Callous Fragile Racist Sexist Nazi Potus.”
“Trump is just a vile, vile man so I felt really motivated to come here,” she said. “I think it is really important that so many people are here so that he knows how Britain feels and how women feel about him. He is such a loser.”
At Oxford Circus in London, James O’Brien from Ireland was selling Donald Trump toilet paper, calling out: “The most satisfaction you can have in a toilet, kids.”
Anne Howard said she thought protester numbers had been bolstered by Trump’s “insulting behaviour” to Theresa May in his interview with the Sun published on Friday.
“To come to someone else’s country and be so unbelievably rude is unacceptable,” she said. “He was so patronising – ‘I told her how to do Brexit but she didn’t listen’ – like she is some little woman and not the prime minister. It sounds like so many men I’ve met in my life.”
Sam and Jemima Queen were marching with their seven-month-old son, Sidney. “We are marching for our children’s future and for the children Trump is separating from their parents,” said Jemima Queen. – Guardian