President Trump has been busy this week, dealing with Mueller’s Special Counsel, the drama regarding NATO and the Summit in Brussels and last but not least, his visit to the United Kingdom. Perhaps his trip to the UK could clear his mind and act as a bit of a stress reliever. But based on the events of Friday the 13th, it appears this did not occur.
A Heated Agreement
In an interview with the British tabloid newspaper, The Sun on Thursday evening, the President harshly criticized Prime Minister Theresa May’s ’12 Point’ plan for the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union (in layman terms, Brexit). President Trump stated that it would ‘kill’ the trade deal between the United Kingdom and the United States. The President also claimed he advised May to avoid a ‘soft Brexit’ deal, alleging that she “didn’t listen”.
Yet, it was only in June 2016 that then-candidate Trump was unaware of the meaning of Brexit. While in an interview with The Hollywood Reporters Michael Woolf, he uttered “Huh?” when Woolf prompted him with the question “And Brexit? Your position?”. Woolf then reminded him about the meaning of Brexit before Trump voiced his support of the Leave campaign.
“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.” — President Trump critiquing PM Theresa May’s ’12 Point’ Brexit Plan
News sources across the world, from the Indian Express to the Washington Post, have joined in their condemnation of Trump’s comments. Some went so far as calling them a “chaotic roadshow” or “Brexit bomb”.
Theresa May’s Replacement?
Along with dishing out critiques about the deal, the President also gave his opinion about who should be Prime Minister. President Trump essentially endorsed Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. The former London Mayor resigned as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs this Monday. He served in the role for just a few days shy of two years. Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative MP for South West Surrey and former Secretary of State for Health, is his replacement.
President Trump described Johnson as “a very talented guy” and stated that he had “a lot of respect” for the former Foreign Secretary. “I am just saying I think he would be a great Prime Minister. I think he’s got what it takes.” said the President.
Trump stressed that he was not trying to pit Johnson against May. However, one cannot mask his strong praise for Johnson. Trump also linked himself to the former official, saying that “I have a lot of respect for Boris. He obviously likes me, and says very good things about me”.
There has always been speculation that Boris Johnson’s ultimate goal was to get to Number 10. After David Cameron resigned in June 2016, pundits and commentators expected Johnson to be the first person to announce his candidacy for the Conservative leadership, especially since he has had a rivalry with Cameron since their schoolboy days at Eton. In the end, Johnson did not go for the position.
As speculation around the chances of Theresa May resigning remains prevalent, one group considers Johnson 5th most likely to become PM. British betting company Ladbrokes gives Johnson 5/1 odds of assuming the role. Ladbrokes ranks Home Secretary Sajid Javid as the favorite, with odds of 9/2.
The Baby Trump Balloon
Possibly one of the most creative protest symbols in London, the baby Trump balloon is a reality. The balloon took flight Friday morning at roughly 9:35 A.M. BST at Parliament Square Garden. The balloon flew for two hours, at a height of 30 feet (9m). The official march to accompany it began at Portland Place at 2:00 P.M. BST.
The balloon measures at 20 feet (6m) tall and depicts the US President as an infant. It wears only a diaper and holds a smartphone in its right hand. The project raised $38,000 (£29,000) over a period of one month thanks to roughly 2,000 backers. Organizers of the protest wanted to go on ‘world tour’ with the figure.
To fly the balloon, the protest organizers needed permission from the Metropolitan Police, Greater London Authority and the National Air Traffic Service. All of the groups gave such consent. However, the Greater London Authority and National Air Traffic Service made it clear that the decision was not political.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a harsh critic of President Trump, is in charge of the Authority. So, some believe that he may have had some political intentions. Alas, a challenging figure has entered the ring: the baby Sadiq Khan balloon.
Balloon Baby Revenge
Free speech advocate Yanny Bruere is behind the baby Khan balloon. It is set to also measure 20 feet in length.
Bruere showed distaste of the Trump balloon Friday. The activist said, “I think it’s insulting and childish. We shouldn’t be making the U.S. President feel unwelcome.”
Despite this, Bruere appeared to believe it justified to raise money for the Khan balloon.
Nigel Farage, MEP, the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, had similar thoughts. On Fox News Friday afternoon, he declared, “Whatever anybody thinks of President Trump, America is our closest and most important ally in the world.”
Bruere raised $66,000 (£50,000) over a period of only three days for his project, thanks to roughly 3,100 backers. He says that he hopes to fly the baby Khan balloon in August. This assumes that he gets permission from the same groups as those behind the Trump balloon did.
The project’s Crowd Funder page states “In light of the Donald Trump ‘Baby Trump’ balloon being allowed to fly over London during his visit to the UK, let’s get a ‘baby Khan’ one and see if FREE SPEECH applies to all and whether or not Mr Khan and the London Assembly will also approve this”.
The page also mentions the sky rocket of crime in London. This includes moped crime, knife crime and acid attacks in the past two years. The page claims they will donate surplus money to the campaign to remove Khan from office and defend free speech. BBC News host Andrew Neil joked Friday that protesters should ‘Fly one of [Khan] wearing a stab vest’. This is likely a jibe at the epidemic of knife crime in London.
Mayor Khan’s Media Debate
Mayor Khan appeared on Good Morning Britain this Thursday, where he debated with former CNN host Piers Morgan. Morgan made two key arguments. First, he asked if Khan would support allowing a ‘big, black baby’ Barack Obama balloon or a balloon depicting Khan as a pig. He also asked Khan if the balloon could affect U.S. and U.K. trade negotiations.
Khan affirmed the first question, provided it was ‘peaceful and safe’. To the second argument, he countered, saying he cannot be the censor that decides what is in good taste.
Morgan also challenged Khan on having different standards regarding President Trump’s visit to London from when the Saudi Crown Prince and Turkish President visited London. He argued that they are far worse people, and should thus be viewed this way. Thus, Morgan argues, it is wrong for Khan to denounce Trump but not these leaders.
Despite his lack of frequent public comment, Khan does have a record of opposing foreign human rights violations. As a human rights lawyer, Khan visited south-east Turkey and condemned human rights violations carried out by the Turkish government.
President Trump and Prime Minister May
The Irish Times reported that President Trump apologized to PM May on Friday morning for his prior comments on Brexit. After the two leaders concluded numerous meetings, they held a joint press conference. Despite previous disagreement, the two leaders praised progress that the nations have made.
“The Chequers agreement reached last week provides the platform for Donald and me to agree an ambitious deal that works for both countries right across our economies. A deal that builds on the UK’s independent trade policy; reducing tariffs, delivering a gold-standard in financial services co-operation, and – as two of the world’s most advanced economies – seizing the opportunity of new technology. All of this will further enhance our economic co-operation, creating new jobs and prosperity for our peoples for generations to come” — PM Theresa May
Further British Endeavors
After the talks, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump made their way to Windsor Castle to meet the Queen.
Yesterday evening, President Trump traveled to Scotland we he met the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell. The Scottish National Party called for peaceful protests during President Trump’s weekend in Scotland while both the Green Party and Labour Party said that the President was not welcome in Scotland.
Anti-Trump protesters were hoping to fly the baby Trump balloon over or close to Turnberry Golf Course, where the Trumps will be staying for the remainder of the weekend. Scotland refused to allow it though, as an air-exclusion zone is in place in the Turnberry area. The President and First Lady will depart Scotland on Sunday evening to return to Washington D.C.
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