Trump kick-starts his UK tour by threatening to kill off a US trade deal

Special relationship.
Special relationship.
Image: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
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Less than 24 hours into his four-day visit to Britain, president Donald Trump has already caused a huge ruckus within the UK government by threatening to kill off a US trade deal with Britain. Considering he chose to spend the first night of his working visit launching a diplomatic grenade, the next three days will undoubtedly prove to be explosive.

Following an interview with Trump in The Sun, members of parliament (MP) from May’s Conservative party, as well as those from the opposition Labour, have hit back at the president.

May had originally hoped that during her bilateral meeting with Trump, which is due to take place at her official country residence called Chequers, he would’ve allowed her to at least tentatively broker a trade deal with the US. It was at the same house only a week ago where May proposed a Brexit plan that would almost certainly see the UK forced to accept EU rules to maintain close trading ties with the bloc.

Although that proposed Brexit deal seems unlikely to go ahead, May’s apparent relaxation on immigration is what caused Trump to hit out—both at his NATO summit press conference and then in more detail in the interview with The Sun. Over the last few months, Trump had originally said he was “ready, willing, and able” to do a deal. However, the country’s trade war with China, as well as battles with Canada and Mexico, have dominated substantive negotiations by his trade officials. Now he says that May didn’t take his advice and has wrecked Brexit because of her decision to opt for a softer approach towards negotiations with the EU.

Meanwhile, UK politicians from all sides have questioned whether he should be blocked from meeting the Queen. He’s due to meet her later today at Windsor Castle, the site of the recent royal wedding. It’s been said that Trump is doing everything he can to avoid the thing he hates the most—protests. Although he’s almost entirely avoiding the UK capital during his visit, protestors are promising a “carnival of resistance,”  with as many as 60,000 people expected to gather at an anti-Trump rally in central London.

The last time that protests of this scale convened was when former-US president George W. Bush visited Britain in November 2003. A few months earlier, he had ordered a controversial invasion of Iraq—and, along with UK prime minister Tony Blair, sent more than 100,000 troops to war halfway across the world. According to British police, there were almost as many anti-war protestors marching on the streets of Central London.

Trump is deeply disliked in Britain. According to YouGov, 77% of people hold an unfavorable view of him, and more than 60% of people think he has been a poor or terrible president.

Meanwhile, a giant balloon of Trump as a baby will spend two hours floating in the sky near the houses of parliament—but it’s the hours-long march and rally, set to culminate at London’s historic Trafalgar Square, that’ll capture the most attention. There are now demonstrations expected in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dundee, too.

Other than that, Trump is really just spending a day and an evening working during his “working trip.” Over the weekend, Trump will be in Scotland, spending time at his golf course—before heading to Helsinki in Finland to meet Russia president Vladimir Putin on Monday.