Trump baby blimp flies in London as protests greet president
London – Thousands of protesters greeted President Donald Trump’s U.K. visit with anger and British irony Tuesday, crowding London’s government district while the U.S. leader met Prime Minister Theresa May nearby.
Feminists, environmentalists, peace activists, trade unionists and others demonstrated against the lavish royal welcome being given to a president they see as a danger to the world, chanting “Say it loud, say it clear, Donald Trump’s not welcome here.”
“I’m very cross he’s here,” said guitar teacher Sarah Greene, carrying a home-made sign reading “keep your grabby hands off our national treasures” under a picture of one of Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis.
“I find him scary. My sign is flippant and doesn’t say the things I’d really like to say.”
A day of protests began with the flying of a giant blimp depicting the president as an angry orange baby, which rose from the grass of central London’s Parliament Square.
One group came dressed in the red cloaks and bonnets of characters from Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is set in a dystopian, misogynist future America.
Demonstrators filled Trafalgar Square and spilled down Whitehall, a street lined with imposing government offices.
Many paused to photograph a robotic likeness of Trump sitting on a golden toilet, cell phone in hand. The robot caught the attention of passers-by with its recitation of catchphrases including “No collusion” and “You are fake news.”
“It’s 16 feet high, so it’s as large as his ego,” said Don Lessem from Philadelphia, who built the statue from foam over an iron frame and had it shipped by boat across the Atlantic.
Lessem, a dinosaur expert who makes models of prehistoric creatures, said “I’m interested in things that are big, not very intelligent and have lost their place in history.”
“I wanted people here to know that people in America do not support Trump in the majority . and humor is my weapon,” he said.
Leaders of Britain’s main opposition party joined demonstrators later at the rally, just up the street from May’s Downing St. office. Police have erected barricades to stop protesters marching past the gates of Downing St.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who declined an invitation to Monday’s royal banquet for the president, was due to address the protest.
Emily Thornberry, Labour’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, said Trump was “a sexual predator” and a racist who did not deserve the honor of a state visit hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.
Thornberry told the BBC that the leader of Britain’s most important ally should be stood up to “the way you deal with a bully” because “if you bow down in front of them you just get kicked harder.”
Not everyone in London was unwelcoming.
Lewis Metcalfe said he came to the city from his home in northern England to show support for the president.
“I’m obviously going to be a minority today,” said Metcalfe, who wore a “Make America Great Again” cap. “I don’t agree with all his policies. He’s not the greatest president in the world, but he does get things done.”
Trump dined with the queen at Buckingham Palace and took tea with Prince Charles on Monday, the first day of his three-day visit.
Things are likely to become more awkward on Tuesday when he meets May, who is in the final weeks of her premiership. The two leaders have sharply differing views on issues including Iran, Brexit and Chinese telecoms firm Huawei.
Trump has already criticized May’s handling of Brexit and said May’s rival Boris Johnson would make an “excellent” prime minister.