‘TRUMP’S SHAL­LOW CRIT­ICS’

SON LEAPS TO DON­ALD’S DE­FENCE

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID WARNOCK

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has ar­rived in Lon­don for the start of his visit to the UK – while his son Eric touched down at Aberdeen Air­port to play at his golf course at Me­nie. Protests are planned the length of the UK, but Eric Trump has hit out at ‘shal­low’ crit­ics of his fa­ther and the course.

Don­ald Trump has ar­rived in Bri­tain for talks with Theresa May just hours af­ter at­tack­ing the prime min­is­ter’s Brexit plan and high­light­ing Cabi­net di­vi­sions while in Brus­sels.

The US pres­i­dent landed in Air Force One at Stansted Air­port in Es­sex at lunchtime on Thurs­day at the start of a four-day UK visit ex­pected to see pro­test­ers take to the streets in large num­bers.

But the po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy was ig­nited even be­fore he and First Lady Me­la­nia had touched down in Bri­tain with their huge en­tourage.

The pres­i­dent used a press con­fer­ence in Brus­sels to de­scribed the UK as a “hot spot right now with a lot of res­ig­na­tions” and dis­missed the prime min­is­ter’s Che­quers plan on the next stage of Brexit.

“I would say Brexit is Brexit,” he told re­porters fol­low­ing a bruis­ing Nato sum­mit.

“The peo­ple voted to break it up so I would imag­ine that’s what they would do, but maybe they’re tak­ing a dif­fer­ent route, I don’t know if that is what they voted for.”

He added that it seemed as if the UK was “get­ting at least par­tially in­volved back with the Euro­pean Union”.

“I’d like to see them be able to work it out so it could go quickly,” he said.

It comes just days af­ter Mr Trump de­clined to say whether Mrs May should re­main in post, said he had “al­ways liked” Boris John­son, who quit as for­eign sec­re­tary over the Che­quers agree­ment, and de­scribed the UK as be­ing in “tur­moil”.

The pres­i­dent’s ar­rival in the UK was de­layed for al­most an hour af­ter he caused a po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic firestorm at the Nato sum­mit in Brus­sels when he threat­ened to pull the US out of the al­liance un­less other na­tions stumped up ex­tra cash.

He backed down over the threats when other lead­ers agreed to in­crease de­fence spend­ing “like they never have be­fore” and de­scribed him­self as a “very sta­ble ge­nius” over the deal.

The US leader gave a brief wave to the crowd be­fore descend­ing the steps from Air Force One hold­ing the hand of the First Lady, to be met by dig­ni­taries led by In­ter­na­tional Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox.

The cou­ple spent a few mo­ments greet­ing the wel­com­ing com­mit­tee be­fore step­ping into the Marine One he­li­copter to be taken to Lon­don.

The first cou­ple were greeted by mu­sic by The Bea­tles when they ar­rived at Win­field House, the of­fi­cial res­i­dence of the US am­bas­sador in Re­gent’s Park, on Marine One.

Mrs May will host Mr Trump and his wife Me­la­nia at a lav­ish din­ner at Blen­heim Palace, the birth­place of Win­ston Churchill, on Thurs­day evening.

The pres­i­dent is ex­pected to avoid ar­eas where ma­jor demon­stra­tions are planned in protest at his visit.

Af­ter spend­ing the night at Win­field House Mr Trump will then join the prime min­is­ter at a mil­i­tary base on Fri­day to ob­serve a joint counter-ter­ror­ism ex­er­cise in­volv­ing spe­cial forces from the UK and US.

They will sub­se­quently hold talks at the prime min­is­ter’s coun­try res­i­dence Che­quers on Fri­day where Rus­sia, Brexit and the Mid­dle East will be at the top of the agenda.

Mr Trump will then travel to Wind­sor Cas­tle to meet the Queen be­fore head­ing to Scot­land for a pri­vate part of the four-day visit, ahead of trav­el­ling to Helsinki for a much-an­tic­i­pated sum­mit with the Rus­sian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Mr Trump’s son Eric has ar­rived in Scot­land for a golf­ing visit to Trump In­ter­na­tional Golf Links at Me­nie, Aberdeen­shire, and Trump Turn­berry, near Gir­van, South Ayr­shire.

He said that the UK is a “big part” of the pres­i­dent’s life, say­ing: “He has worked here for so many years, and he knows so many peo­ple.

“His mother, my grand­mother, is from Scot­land.

“We just love this coun­try, we love the UK in gen­eral and it’s a big part of our lives.

“It’s a big part of his life, pre­pol­i­tics, and that can only be a pos­i­tive.”

“I’d like to see them be able to work it out so it could go quickly”

Don­ald Trump’s son and busi­ness suc­ces­sor jet­ted into the north-east yes­ter­day – and slammed “shal­low” crit­ics in­clud­ing the first min­is­ter.

Eric Trump played a round at the Me­nie es­tate links be­fore an­swer­ing ques­tions from jour­nal­ists.

First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon will not meet the pres­i­dent on his visit to the UK and has pre­vi­ously de­scribed state­ments made by him as “deeply ab­hor­rent”.

The visit will also be met by protests across the UK, in­clud­ing out­side the Me­nie es­tate, which have been backed by a num­ber of se­nior politi­cians.

Mr Trump said that the out­rage at his fa­ther’s visit had been “hyped up” by the me­dia and when asked specif­i­cally about the re­sponse from Scot­land he said: “There is al­ways a big dis­con­nect be­tween ci­ti­zens and politi­cians.

“We have seen that in our own coun­try of­ten enough, but I guess we have thick skin.

“If you look at the peo­ple in Aberdeen and Turn­berry they love what we have done to the two sites we have and the hun­dreds of mil­lions we have in­vested in the coun­try.

“It’s some­thing that should be cel­e­brated and not crit­i­cised. I think it takes a pretty shal­low per­son to crit­i­cise it and many of these peo­ple are shal­low.

“They will come and go and we won’t and we will still be here in­vest­ing in these prop­er­ties for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

He branded the Aberdeen bay wind farm that his fa­ther had fought so hard to stop “ir­rel­e­vant”, but added that he was scep­ti­cal that it would still be stand­ing in a decade.

He said: “I think it was a fool­ish lo­ca­tion, but at the end of the day I think it is ir­rel­e­vant and it doesn’t make any dif­fer­ence to this course. “We will see how long they last.” His visit came as watch­dog Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage found the Trump In­ter­na­tional Links has “par­tially de­stroyed” the spe­cially pro­tected site it was built on.

But Mr Trump said that the in­vest­ment had done “won­ders for the area” and that his Scot­tish grand­mother would be “smil­ing down” from heaven in pride at the work in her na­tive land.

And Mr Trump said that he was con­fi­dent that UK/US re­la­tions would be strength­ened by the pres­i­den­tial visit.

He said: “It’s a great thing for in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and if you look at the UK and you look at Scot­land and the US – what two al­lies, any­where in the world at any time in his­tory have been more pow­er­ful al­lies than us?

“I think hav­ing a pres­i­dent with those roots, that has spent so much time in those places, is a beau­ti­ful thing.”

Mr Trump said he would meet his fa­ther at the Turn­berry course in the com­ing days and added it was “still to be de­cided” whether he would make a visit to his Aberdeen­shire golf course.

When asked if there would be more vis­its in the fu­ture he re­sponded: “There is no ques­tion about it.”

Mr Trump jun’s pri­vate em­bla­zoned with the Trump logo, left Aberdeen Air­port at 4.15pm.

A Scot­tish Govern­ment spokesman said of the visit: “Pres­i­dent Trump is com­ing to the UK at the in­vi­ta­tion of the UK Govern­ment and the Sec­re­tary of State for Scot­land will greet him on ar­rival.

“We un­der­stand the pres­i­dent’s time in Scot­land is planned as a per­sonal pri­vate visit be­tween other en­gage­ments, with no of­fi­cial meet­ings.

“Scot­land has deep and long­stand­ing ties of fam­ily, friend­ship and busi­ness with the United States, which will con­tinue to en­dure.

“At the same time, we will not com­pro­mise our fun­da­men­tal values of equal­ity, di­ver­sity, and hu­man rights and we ex­pect these values to be made clear dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial visit to the UK. We would en­cour­age those at­tend­ing any protests to do so peace­fully and safely.”

“I think hav­ing a pres­i­dent with those roots, that has spent so much time in those places, is beau­ti­ful”

FLAGS FLY­ING: Eric Trump played a round yes­ter­day at Trump In­ter­na­tional

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