Who is welcoming Donald Trump’s UK visit—and who is wary

Not everyone is neutral.
Not everyone is neutral.
Image: Reuters/Steve Parsons
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Donald Trump makes his second visit as US president to the UK from June 3 to June 5. His working visit last July featured a rebuke of prime minister Theresa May, a seemingly unintentional snub of the Queen, an enormous and terrifying “Trump baby” protest balloon, and a round at his golf course in Scotland.

This month’s state visit will see Trump enjoy a visit with the royal family and a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, a chat with May, who is stepping down as Conservative Party leader later this week, a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and a meeting with Ireland’s leader, Leo Varadkar. Also—an enormous and terrifying Trump baby blimp.

The president hasn’t even touched down in the UK yet, and already the country is drawing a breath. Some in gleeful anticipation, and others with dread. Here’s a rundown of where people might stand ahead of the visit.

Who is happy to host Trump?

The US ambassador to the UK. It’s a big week for Woody Johnson, who has known Trump for four decades, and has been counting down to the visit on Twitter. “Everything is going to go great” on the trip, he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr this weekend in an interview about the US’s relationship with the UK post-Brexit.

Nigel Farage. In early 2016, the Brexit Party leader lambasted then-US president Barack Obama for warning of the consequences should the UK leave the EU. “Vladimir Putin behaved in a more statesmanlike manner than President Obama did in this referendum campaign, Farage said at the time. “Obama came to Britain, and I think behaved disgracefully.” He’s more circumspect now over Trump weighing in on the issue, perhaps unsurprising given that Trump this weekend suggested sending Farage into negotiations with the EU, calling him a “terrific person.”

Boris Johnson. Breaking with diplomatic protocol (paywall), Trump backed the former London mayor and foreign secretary to replace May as head of the Conservative Party, and thus UK prime minister. In an interview with the Sun, Trump said Johnson, the current favorite to win, “would do a very good job” and be “excellent” as party leader, adding, “he has been very positive about me and our country.”

Conservative Party members. Some party leaders might be pleased that Trump already has a strong relationship with the frontrunner to replace May, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent James Landale writes.

Who may have a headache over it?

The Metropolitan Police. Trump was able to largely avoid the tens of thousands of people who gathered to protest his last visit. It might be harder this time, with demonstrations planned outside Buckingham Palace, the US embassy, and Trafalgar Square. If last year’s security operations are anything to go by, thousands of police officers can expect to once again be “run ragged.”

Theresa May. Hosting the person who has undermined her on several previous occasions is probably the last thing the prime minister wanted for her final week as Conservative Party leader. She may use the opportunity to speak up against the president’s bullying. But “the more likely scenario,” Independent columnist Chris Stevenson writes, “is that Downing Street will grit its teeth and bear with the Trump administration in the same way it has up until now.”

Jeremy Corbyn. The opposition Labour leader is boycotting the state dinner and on Saturday called Trump’s comments backing Johnson “an entirely unacceptable interference in our democracy.”

Meghan Markle. Maternity leave is the official reason the newly minted Duchess of Sussex has bowed out from meeting Trump. But given her previous criticisms of the president, which Trump this weekend called “nasty,” she’s probably relieved she’s not being called on to underscore the UK-US “special relationship.” Trump later denied his comments, which were recorded.

Huawei. The Chinese telecom giant will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion (paywall) between Trump and May. The US is upset that the UK is considering allowing Huawei, which it recently blacklisted, to build out its 5G network.

Conservative Party members. Some fear an endorsement of Johnson—or any Tory leader—might not land well with the UK public, which does not have a particularly favorable view (paywall) of Trump.