In a move that could strain the already contentious relationship between London Mayor Sadiq Khan and U.S. President Donald Trump, the former has given permission for a giant balloon depicting POTUS as an angry baby to be tethered in Parliament Square Garden next Friday.
On July 13, Trump will make his first visit to the UK since taking office and this is just one of the forms of protest expected to greet him. With demonstrations planned outside BBC headquarters and in Trafalgar Square, media will be on high alert as Trump travels through London. The 19-foot-high ‘Trump Baby’ blimp will surely be a big orange focus.
The ‘Trump Baby’ Crowdfunder campaign has raised over £17K to make the “inflatable baby with a malevolent face and tiny hands fly over central London during Trump’s UK visit.” Leo Murray, one of the organizers, told Sky News, “We didn’t get off to the best start with the mayor’s office over this, who originally told us that they didn’t recognize ‘Trump Baby’ as legitimate protest. But following a huge groundswell of public support for our plan, it looks like City Hall has rediscovered its sense of humor. Trump Baby will fly!”
A spokesperson for Khan told Deadline, “The Mayor supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms. His city operations team have met with the organizers and have given them permission to use Parliament Square Garden as a grounding point for the blimp.”
The plan is for the balloon to hover at a height of 30 meters (98 feet) from 9:30AM-11:30AM local time on Friday. However approvals are also required from the Metropolitan Police and National Air Traffic Service.
Khan and Trump have clashed publicly since the latter was elected. Khan was highly critical of Trump’s travel ban and then last spring, Trump berated (and misconstrued) Khan following the London terrorist attack that saw several killed and dozens injured. Khan vowed at the time that he wasn’t “tangoing with this guy. I’ve got better things to do.”
But he also told Channel4 News that a state visit by the U.S. President should be cancelled. “I don’t think we should be rolling out the red carpet to the President of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,” Khan said in June 2017.
In November, after POTUS’ retweets of anti-Muslim messages put out by the UK’s far-right Britain First party, Khan said he had called on Prime Minister Theresa May “to cancel her ill-judged offer of a state visit” and added, “It is increasingly clear that any official visit at all from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor today told Deadline, “Sadiq’s main priority is the safety of all Londoners and visitors to our city, and as always we are working in very close coordination with the Metropolitan Police and other key agencies to ensure all protests are carried out safely and securely.”