It was a whirlwind of pomp, circumstance and protest for Trump, who had lunch with Queen Elizabeth and tea with Prince Charles before a grand state dinner at Buckingham Palace.
Trump turns from pomp to business in U.K. visit
The queen used her toast to emphasize the importance of international institutions created by Britain, the United States and other allies after World War II, a subtle rebuttal to Trump, a critic of NATO and the U.N.
But most of the talk and the colorful images were just what the White House wanted to showcase Trump as a statesman while, back home, the race to succeed him — and talk of impeaching him — heated up. Yet Trump, forever a counter-puncher, immediately roiled diplomatic docility by tearing into London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Later this week come D-Day commemoration ceremonies on both sides of the English Channel and his first presidential visit to Ireland, which will include a stay at his coastal golf club. For most presidents, it would be a time to revel in the grandeur, building relations with heads of state and collecting photo-ops for campaign ads and presidential libraries.
With the trip already at risk of being overshadowed by Britains Brexit turmoil, Trump unleashed a Twitter tirade after a newspaper column in which Londons mayor said he did not deserve red-carpet treatment and was one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat to liberal democracy from the far right.
″@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly nasty to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom, Trump wrote just before landing. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.
[email protected], who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly nasty to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me……
….Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, 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!
During the palace welcome ceremony, Trump and Prince Charles inspected the Guard of Honor formed by the Grenadier Guards wearing their traditional bearskin hats. Royal gun salutes were fired from nearby Green Park and from the Tower of London as part of the pageantry accompanying an official state visit, one of the highest honors Britain can bestow on a foreign leader.
READ MORE: Donald Trump calls Duchess of Sussex ‘nasty’ ahead of U.K. visit, calls Boris Johnson ‘excellent’
But the U.S. president arrived at a precarious moment. There is a fresh round of impeachment fervor back home and uncertainty on this side of the Atlantic. British Prime Minister Theresa May has undergone months of political turmoil over Britains planned exit from the European Union, and French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to use the 75th anniversary of the World War II battle that turned the tide on the Western Front to call for strengthening multinational ties the U.S. president has frayed.
Trump glossed over the protests, saying he saw "thousands of people in the streets cheering" and waving U.S. and U.K. flags, but just a "very, very small" group of protesters. "It was tremendous spirit and love. There was great love," he said.
A year ago, he also had taken aim at his hosts before landing on English soil, blasting May in an interview hours before she hosted him for dinner. This time he has so far spared May, whom he will meet with on Tuesday, but he also has praised her rival, Boris Johnson, just days before May steps down as Conservative leader on Friday for failing to secure a Brexit deal.
Trump said he would have "sued and settled, maybe, but you never know. Shes probably a better negotiator than I am." And he added that the deal May came away with was a good one and "perhaps you wont be given the credit you deserve."
I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent, Trump told The Sun. I like him. I have always liked him. I dont know that he is going to be chosen, but I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person.
It was not clear if that endorsement would help or hurt Johnsons chances of becoming prime minister. Trump said he may meet with Johnson this week.
Never shy about weighing in on other countries affairs, Trump also told the Sunday Times that Britain should walk away from Brexit talks and refuse to pay a 39 billion pound ($49 billion) divorce bill if it doesnt get better terms from the European Union. He said he might meet with another pro-Brexit politician, Nigel Farage, and claimed Farage should be given a role in the Brexit negotiations.
After lunch with the queen, Trump was given a biography of Winston Churchill as a gift — hes a fan — and shown parts of the collection at Buckingham Palace, including an 18th-century map of New York, historic photos of golf at St. Andrews and books about birds and George Washington. Westminster Abbey was next, with a tour and moment of silence at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
As Trump crossed London, he was shadowed — at a distance — by demonstrators, who planned to fly again a huge balloon depicting the president as a baby. He declared there was great love all around but the Fake News would try to find protests.
As often happens when Trump travels overseas, norms were shattered, including when the president complained about his television viewing options in the foreign capital and urged people to punish CNN by boycotting its parent company, AT&T.
In an interview with The Sun, Trump weighed in on the American-born Duchess of Sussex. The former Meghan Markle, who gave birth to a son in May and will not attend the weeks events, has been critical of Trump, and when some of her comments were recited to him he told the tabloid, I didnt know that she was nasty.
He said later he thought Markle would be very good as a royal and claimed he only meant her comments were nasty.
Trump will make his first presidential visit to Ireland on Wednesday, spending two nights at his golf club in Doonbeg, which sits above the Atlantic. After Dublin balked at holding a meeting in the city, a deal was struck for Trump to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at the VIP lounge at Shannon Airport, hardly the grand setting usually afforded a meeting of world leaders.
The centerpiece of the presidents European trip will be two days to mark the 75th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, D-Day landing, likely the last significant commemoration most veterans of the battle will see. The events will begin in Portsmouth, England, where the invasion was launched, and then move across the Channel to France, where Allied forces began to recapture Western Europe from the Nazis.
May, who fought back tears when she announced her resignation last month, voiced hope her successor will be able to achieve Brexit.
The day is normally a heartfelt tribute to unity and sacrifice, outweighing any national or political skirmish. But some on both sides of the Atlantic are nervous about Trump, who has shown a willingness to inject partisanship into such moments.
Moving from pageantry to policy during his state visit, President Donald Trump said the United States and the United Kingdom could agree to a "phenomenal" post-Brexit trade deal.
"As the U.K. makes preparations to exit the European Union, the United States is committed to a phenomenal trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K.," Trump told a news conference on Tuesday during his state visit to London.
"There is tremendous potential in that trade deal — I say probably two and even three times of what we are doing right now."
Speaking alongside Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May praised the "precious and profound" British-U.S. special relationship, but acknowledged differences with Trump on issues including climate change and Iran.
CBC's Renée Filippone discusses Trump and other topics with Daily Telegraph reporter Camilla Tominey:
Making nice at the end, Trump eased up on his frequent criticism of May over her handling of the tortured Brexit deal, declaring that history will remember her fondly if the U.K. can successfully leave the European Union.
The president's unexpected compliments for May come just days before she was set to resign the leadership of her party after failing to secure a Brexit deal. She will depart as prime minister once her successor has been chosen.
"I have greatly enjoyed working with you. You are a tremendous professional and a person who loves her country very much," Trump told May. But he couldn't resist a slight dig, evoking the two years of broadsides he had lobbed at her by recalling that he urged her to sue the EU rather than try to negotiate a departure.
Trump said he would have "sued and settled, maybe, but you never know. She's probably a better negotiator than I am." And he added that the deal May came away with was a good one and "perhaps you won't be given the credit you deserve."
May, who fought back tears when she announced her resignation last month, voiced hope her successor will be able to achieve Brexit.
"I still believe — I personally believe — that it is in the best interest of the U.K. to leave the European Union with a deal. I believe there is a good deal on the table," she said. "Obviously, it will be whoever succeeds me as prime minister to take this issue forward. What is paramount, I believe, is delivering on Brexit for the British people."
May mentioned the U.K.'s continued support for the Paris agreement on climate change, which Trump has repudiated. And she said the U.S. and Britain differ on how to limit the threat from Iran.
The U.K. still supports an international agreement to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions, but Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the deal.
May also told the president that "co-operation and compromise are the basis of strong alliances."
Trump described the thousands of people who demonstrated in London against his visit to Britain as a "small protest." He said he only saw a small demonstration and media reports of the much larger protest amounted to "fake news."
A giant inflatable blimp depicting Trump as a pouting baby in a diaper flew outside Parliament in London ahead of a major protest.
"We're trying to remind the president how unwelcome he is in this country," said Leo Murray, 42, the co-creator of the six-metre-high blimp.
"We're also, in a lighthearted way, trying to articulate the strength of feeling against Donald Trump and his politics of hate," he said. "We want to put a smile on people's faces as well as make a serious point."
The blimp, which was first used during Trump's visit to London last year, rose a few metres off the ground.
In central London, the leader of the U.K.'s opposition Labour Party joined tens of thousands of protesters in a "Carnival of Resistance" to voice their opposition to the president.
Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke at the rally after snubbing Monday night's banquet at Buckingham Palace, said it was an "opportunity to stand in solidarity with those he's attacked in America, around the world and in our own country."
PreviousNextHide captionToggle Fullscreen1 of 0Among those taking part will be environmental activists, anti-racism campaigners and women's rights protesters.
Trump called Corbyn a "negative force," and used the same term for London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The U.S. president met with the prime minister and corporate executives from the United States and United Kingdom as part of a day of negotiations ahead of a news conference on Trump's second day on British soil. The leaders' top priority is a possible bilateral trade deal to take effect once — or if — the U.K. leaves the EU.
The U.K. is scheduled to leave the EU on Oct. 31 unless both sides agree to an extension. Its position is in flux because May is stepping down as party leader Friday, setting in motion a race to succeed her as prime minister.
It is traditional for U.S. and other world leaders to not weigh in on another's domestic politics. But Trump hasn't let that stop him. Trump told the Sunday Times in an interview that Britain should "walk away" from talks and refuse to pay a $49 billion US divorce bill if it doesn't get better terms from the EU.
The president also said Brexit party leader Nigel Farage, an outspoken advocate of leaving the EU without a deal, should be given a role in the negotiations.
Trump also took the unusual step of saying that Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson would make an "excellent" leader for Britain.
Trump on Tuesday called Johnson and offered a one-to-one meeting. Johnson declined the invitation as he had to focus on meeting Conservative Party lawmakers who will vote on who they want to be the next prime minister, a source told Reuters.
The president understood the situation and said he looked forward to catching up at a later date, the source said. Their call lasted for around 20 minutes, the source added.
The meeting with business leaders at St. James's Palace brought together 10 leading companies — five from the U.K. and five from the United States. They explored where co-operation could benefit both sides.
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