Protests today in London as “Trump baby” balloon takes flight

Author: CBS News
A “Baby Trump” balloon rises after being inflated in London’s Parliament Square, as part of the protests against the visit of President Donald Trump to the U.K., July 13, 2018. AP

Hordes of demonstrators began to converge in central London on Friday morning, intent on mocking U.S. President Donald Trump on his only full day of business with British leaders on what has been dubbed a “working visit” to the United Kingdom. The visual cornerstone of the anti-Trump protests on Friday — which include several organized marches by varying groups — is a giant balloon depicting the U.S. leader as an angry, screaming orange baby in a diaper, clutching a cell phone with Twitter on the screen.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has clashed for months on Twitter with Mr. Trump, had to give the final approval for “Trump baby” to fly. Mr. Trump has acknowledged that he feels unwelcome in the British capital, suggesting it was part of the reason he wasn’t spending much time there during his U.K. visit.

Trump baby,” as the balloon is known, will be flown high over Parliament Square in London, but Mr. Trump is spending the day miles away from the center of the British capital — and the protesters — in meetings with Prime Minster Theresa May and then later with Queen Elizabeth II.

Tens of thousands are expected march through the streets of London to protest the American leader’s visit to the U.K., his policies on issues ranging from immigration and race relations to women and climate change.

Public anger over Mr. Trump’s visit has already had consequences. Just a week after his inauguration, Prime Minister Theresa May invited the president for a state visit, the type of event that normally includes glittering horse-drawn carriages and a state dinner hosted by the monarch.

But as CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reported, this is not the grand visit he was originally promised — it is a much delayed, much diminished “working visit,” most of it planned for outside of central London, where the protesters have prepared their own special welcome.

Leo Murray, who calls himself “Trump baby’s” daddy, told Phillips that the 20-foot-high protest balloon design was chosen deliberately because Mr. Trump, “is uniquely vulnerable to personal insults, so we just got right down at his level, to speak to him in a language that he understands.”

Murray, grandson of a former Labor Party parliamentarian, has a history of leading protests but says the balloon idea emerged one afternoon at a pub with friends.

Mr. Trump declared on Thursday in Brussels that, “I think they like me a lot in the U.K.”

According to recent surveys by non-partisan British polling organization YouGov, only 11 percent of Britons said they thought Mr. Trump was a “great” or “good president.” By contrast, 67 percent said they believed he was a “poor” or “terrible president.”

As Phillips says, on the whole, the U.S. leader may not get the reception in Britain that he had hoped for.

Trump and the queen

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump will sit down later Friday with Queen Elizabeth II for their first official visit with the monarch. She has met nearly every one of the last 12 U.S. presidents.

Mr. Trump has said he is looking forward to meeting the queen, whom he described as an “incredible woman,” at Windsor Castle.

CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata says that while Her Majesty the queen and the current U.S. president may have very different personalities, royal biographer Robert Hardman doesn’t see any problems ahead for their encounter.

“They actually have quite a lot in common. They’ve both got Scottish mothers, they both own fairly large parts of Scotland — in her case Balmoral, in his case two golf courses — and she’s used to dealing with the most appalling despots, monsters, crooks, dictators,” Hardman said. “I think they’re going to get on great.”

Michael Avenatti joins anti-Trump protest

Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn actress and presidential antagonist Stephanie Clifford, or Stormy Daniels as she is more commonly known, was in London on Friday to participate in the Women’s March protesting Mr. Trump’s visit to the U.K.

“I think the president’s visit is like a lot of things the president does; It’s insufficient,” Avenatti told CBS News’ Haley Joelle Ott on the noisy streets of central London. “He’s trying to avoid the protests because he wants to bury his head in the sand and doesn’t want to look at what’s really going on and face the facts,” he said.”At some point this president needs to step up or step out,” Avenatti asserted.

“I think that this march in particular deals with a lot of the issues that we talk about in Stormy’s case, and I think it deals significantly with the issues that I’m dealing with day in and day out, as it relates to some of these mothers who have been separated from their children from the southern border of the United States… The bottom line is these families need to be reunited yesterday.”

“To say someone resisted”

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Portland Place in central London on Friday morning ahead of the first of two large protests planned in the capital, where tens of thousands are expected to demonstrate against President Trump’s first visit to the United Kingdom as U.S. leader.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer says as many as 50,000 protesters were expected to take to London’s streets on Friday, which would make it the biggest weekday demonstration in the British capital in 15 years.

“We just wanted to really highlight the fact that many citizens are not happy with the divisive rhetoric that has been coming out of the Trump-Pence administration,” protest organizer Huda Jawad told CBS News’s Haley Joelle Ott.

“I’m a woman. I’m a woman of color. I came to this country as a refugee… I also have two boys,” she said. “They’re growing up in an increasingly uncomfortable, unsafe world and environment, and I wanted to do this for them.”

After Mr. Trump derided London’s Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan as being soft on terrorism, among other things, in an interview published Thursday with the Sun newspaper, Jawad said she was also determined to demonstrate against, “these policies, the rhetoric of racism, misogyny, caging children, regressing in terms of gender rights and human rights, the appalling way in which the environment is being treated by the administration.”

Her aim in protesting, she told CBS News, was “to say someone resisted, and not on our watch.”

“Very good relationship”

Speaking Friday next to British Prime Minister Theresa May at her official country residence outside of London, President Donald Trump insisted the two had bonded more than ever before over dinner the previous evening. He lauded the U.S.-U.K. relationship as “very, very strong. We really have a very good relationship.”

His remarks came about 12 hours after British tabloid the Sun published an interview with the U.S. leader in which he lambasted her plan for a “soft” exit from the European Union, saying Mrs. May’s Brexit blueprint would “probably kill” hopes of a bilateral trade deal going forward. He also lauded May’s top political rival, Boris Johnson, whom he said would make a good prime minister.

Both the White House and Prime Minster May’s office have been at pains since Mr. Trump’s harsh rhetoric emerged to stress that relations remain cordial.

“The prime minister has a good relationship with the president,” May’s spokeswoman said on Friday.

May and Mr. Trump shook hands and spoke briefly to reporters Friday morning at Chequers before going behind closed doors for meetings that Mr. Trump said would focus on trade, military cooperation and events in the Middle East.

Mr. Trump said, in spite of the Sun interview emerging as they sat down together for a formal dinner on Thursday night, that he and May had bonded like never before over the course of the meal.

Heading out of London

A “Baby Trump” balloon rises after being inflated in London’s Parliament Square, as part of the protests against the visit of President Donald Trump to the U.K., July 13, 2018. AP

As the “Trump baby” balloon slowly took flight on Friday morning, climbing at first just several yards off the ground, President Trump left the U.S. ambassador’s mansion in London with first lady Melania Trump to visit the renowned Sandhurst Military Academy, south of the city. Melania diverged after their departure and instead of Sandhurst, went to meet British veterans at the Royal Chelsea Hospital and residence in central London dedicated to them.

After observing a joint counter-terrorism exercise there with Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr. Trump is to hold afternoon meetings with May — guaranteed to be tense after the publication of an interview in which Mr. Trump ridiculed May’s plans for Brexit and lauded her political rival Boris Johnson — at the PM’s official rural residence, Chequers.

CBS News partner network BBC News reported Friday morning that British government ministers were on damage control following the release of Mr. Trump’s interview with the Sun tabloid, with many suggesting they looked forward to further explaining the government’s stance on exiting the European Union.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond, Britain’s chief banker and a member of May’s cabinet, told the BBC on Friday that Mr. Trump probably “hasn’t yet had a chance” to study the detail of the proposed Brexit plan from May, and that she looked forward to explaining it in their meetings.

Sam Gyimah, a junior member of government and Mrs. May’s own Conservative Party, was less reserved, however, asking succinctly in a tweet on Friday, “Where are your manners, Mr. President?”

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