Donald Trump is set to visit the UK early in the new year, according to one of his top diplomats. However, the visit is set to provoke massive protests that could top the 2M that turned out to rail against the Iraq war over ten years ago.
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, who is now U.S Ambassador to the UK, told BBC Radio 4’s Today show that the President is likely to visit the country in early 2018 to open the U.S Embassy, which is moving from its current base in Grosvenor Square in central London to a new complex in Battersea, south of the River Thames.
This comes after Trump recently became engulfed in a Twitter row with UK Prime Minister Theresa May over Muslim terror threats.
Last month, Trump retweeted a number of anti-Muslim messages from far right political group Britain First and was rebuked by May. After Parliament debated the situation this morning during an Urgent Questions session, a number of politicians called for the visit, which is unlikely to see Trump meet The Queen, to be cancelled. However, it does not look like this will happen after Johnson’s comments were the first official confirmation that a visit will take place.
Johnson added that he felt Trump’s actions were “misinterpreted”. “I think the way he looks at it is that security is his number one oath, it’s protecting Americans. It’s protecting Americans [in the UK] and in the US, that’s number one. So if you look at it in the context of that, that’s what he’s trying to do. Is he going to be perfect in appeasing everybody? He’s not going to go down the path of a lot of politicians and maybe be namby pamby about it, he’s going to come out, he’s going to probably take some chances and in an effort to do that, to accomplish that security goal, maybe he’ll ruffle feathers. There’s no question some feathers were ruffled with that. I think you have to have confidence to look down the road and good things are going to happen,” he added.
However, these comments provoked further consternation from British MPs with a number of senior figures calling for protests. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable lead the charge, saying the visit will be “massively opposed in Britain”, while a number of Labour MPs also weighed in. Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, opposed the visit and said British people deserved a special relationship that works “both ways”.”By sharing and promoting videos by Britain First he’s undermined our democratic process and put at risk people in our communities,” she told Radio 4. Tottenham MP David Lammy said: “He is going to be met by the biggest protest this country has ever seen, and I will be at the front of it.”
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn added: “Donald Trump’s reckless actions are making the world less safe and setting back global action on climate change. When he comes to Britain, people will make their views known on these issues and show him we are a diverse and inclusive society.”
The visit, which is reported to be taking place between 26 and 27 February, may see even bigger numbers than protests against the Iraq War, which saw between 750,000 and 2M take to the streets of London, Glasgow and Belfast in 2003. Trump, famously overstating the numbers at his inauguration, may finally get the crowds that he wishes for.