LONDON (AFP) – Donald Trump arrived in Britain yesterday for his first visit as US president, flying into a whirlwind of protests against him and political turmoil over Brexit.
The four-day trip, which will include talks with Prime Minister Theresa May, tea with Queen Elizabeth II and a private weekend in Scotland, is set to be greeted by a leftist-organised mass protest in London today.
Despite a series of diplomatic spats between Britain and Mr Trump, the British government is hoping for a quick trade deal with the US after it leaves the European Union.
“When we leave the European Union we will begin to chart a new course for Britain in the world and our global alliances will be stronger than ever,” Ms May said ahead of Mr Trump’s visit. “There is no stronger alliance than that of our special relationship with the US and there will be no alliance more important in the years ahead.”
US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, has said a deal will be “a major priority” for Mr Trump, calling Brexit “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change direction”.
Mr Trump flew in after the NATO summit in Brussels and leaves Britain on Sunday for talks in Helsinki the following day with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Britain “is in somewhat turmoil”, Mr Trump said before departing Washington, remarking that dealing with Mr Putin might surprisingly be the easiest part of the European trip.
“The UK certainly has a lot of things going on,” he said, referring to the resignations of Britain’’s Brexit and foreign ministers over the government’s plan for ties with the European Union after it leaves the bloc in March.
Ambassador Johnson sought to explain Mr Trump’s comments, saying: “I think the UK is proceeding as it always does. We’re extremely confident in the ability of the UK to plough through this issue with Brexit and move on.”