US pres­i­dent stokes Bri­tain’s Brexit tur­moil at start of visit

Oman Daily Observer - - WORLD -

LON­DON: Don­ald Trump be­gan a protest-laden trip to Bri­tain on Thurs­day by ques­tion­ing whether Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May will de­liver on UK vot­ers’ in­ten­tions when they de­cided to quit the Euro­pean Union.

Ig­nor­ing all diplo­matic niceties, the con­ven­tion-shred­ding US pres­i­dent set up the four-day visit with a re­buke of his be­lea­guered host as she bat­tles to stop her govern­ment fall­ing apart over Brexit.

Shrug­ging off the plans for mass protests, which on Fri­day will in­clude a gi­ant baby-shaped blimp bear­ing Trump’s fea­tures, he said in Brus­sels: “They like me a lot in the UK. I think they agree with me on im­mi­gra­tion.

“I think that’s why Brexit hap­pened,” he told a news con­fer­ence be­fore fly­ing to Stansted Air­port north of Lon­don.

He said Bri­tain was “a pretty hot spot right now with a lot of res­ig­na­tions”. “The peo­ple voted to break it up (Bri­tain’s ties with the EU),” Trump said. “So I would imag­ine that’s what they will do, but maybe they will take a lit­tle bit of a dif­fer­ent route. I don’t know (if) that is what they voted for,” he added.

“I’d like to see them be able to work it out so it could go quickly.” When asked about Trump’s re­marks, May said in Brus­sels: “What we are do­ing is de­liv­er­ing on the vote of the Bri­tish peo­ple... that’s what our pro­posal does.” Trump is do­ing his best to avoid the mass protests planned for his con­tro­ver­sial trip, which will in­clude talks with May, tea with Queen El­iz­a­beth II and a pri­vate week­end in Scot­land.

Some 77 per cent of Bri­tons have an un­favourable view of Trump, ac­cord­ing to a poll by Yougov with 1,648 re­spon­dents.

Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan, who signed off on the so-called “baby Trump” blimp, de­fended the de­ci­sion on Thurs­day, ar­gu­ing the protests were not anti-amer­i­can but em­blem­atic of free speech.

“Now more than ever we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to stand up for our val­ues and en­sure our voice is heard around the world,” he wrote in Lon­don’s Evening Stan­dard news­pa­per.

De­spite a se­ries of diplo­matic spats be­tween Bri­tain and Trump, the Bri­tish govern­ment is hop­ing for a quick trade deal with the United States af­ter it leaves the Euro­pean Union.

“There is no stronger al­liance than that of our spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with the US and there will be no al­liance more im­por­tant in the years ahead,” May said ahead of the visit.

But Brexit cham­pion Nigel Farage pre­dicted there would be a “real clash” on Brexit. “I would love to say that I think this is go­ing to be a hugely suc­cess­ful visit but I think it’s go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult,” he said at a pro-trump gath­er­ing in par­lia­ment.

Trump flew in af­ter a fraught Nato sum­mit in Brus­sels where he piled pres­sure on al­lies to dou­ble their de­fence spend­ing.

TRUMP IS DO­ING HIS BEST TO AVOID MASS PROTESTS PLANNED FOR HIS CON­TRO­VER­SIAL TRIP, WHICH WILL IN­CLUDE TALKS WITH THERESA MAY

— AFP

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and US First Lady Me­la­nia Trump are greeted by an hon­our guard of Royal Air Force per­son­nel af­ter dis­em­bark­ing Air Force One at Stansted Air­port, north of Lon­don, on Thurs­day.

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