Trump's UK visit is costing the country millions
Donald Trump’s UK visit this week will be unlike any other presidential visit that’s gone before. Back in 1961, when JFK visited, half a million people lined the streets to welcome him. Now, more than half a century later, the cheers have turned to jeers.
Of course, the world has changed. Globalisation and modern mass media have made it a far smaller place. But there remains a certain glamour in American politics which fascinates the British. However, in Donald Trump, the sophistication and decorum of the elder statesman are somewhat lacking.
Undeniably, a statesman Trump is not. Causing fallouts between friends and arguments at Thanksgiving, his politics - in America - are divisive. Europe, however, seems to have made up its mind, with just 23 per cent of Europeans approving of his performance so far as president.
Britain is no anomaly and what is being dubbed a “carnival of resistance” is being prepared for his visit. Tens of thousands of people are expected to protest in London alone, though his itinerary seems to avoid the capital as much as possible.
Air Force One will arrive at London Stansted airport on Thursday. He will visit London, Windsor Castle, Blenheim Palace and Chequers (the Prime Minister’s country retreat in Buckinghamshire) before travelling to Scotland.
The security outfit required for Trump's UK visit will see the largest mobilisation of British police officers since the 2011 England riots. Around 4,000 police officers from 43 different forces will be deployed to the areas Trump is visiting through “mutual aid” agreements.
“They are the highest ever requests for mutual aid I have ever seen,” one chief constable told the Guardian. “More mutual aid is being asked for than the [London 2012] Olympics, than for the terrorist attacks last year. I’ve never seen mutual aid requests like this. Every force is sending their maximum and above.”
“£5m [nationally] is the direct cost. You then have the cost of cancelled rest days. If I cancel a rest day to send an officer, that cost will be covered by the local force.” Clearly, the knock-on effects of the policing operation will cost the taxpayer millions. However, the National Police Chiefs’ Council has remained tight-lipped on details.
“UK forces are currently planning a major national policing operation to support the forthcoming visit of US President Donald Trump,” they said in a statement. “The NPoCC [National Police Coordination Centre] is in discussions with forces about how the resource requirements of this massive operation will be met. Operational plans are still being determined and we are confident that forces will continue to maintain local policing services.”
One person at the centre of the aforementioned carnival is Nona Hurkmans - an activist behind an art project which has gripped the nation. Having raised funds of almost £28,000 ($37,000), a 20-foot-tall blimp described on its crowdfunding page as an “orange, inflatable baby with a malevolent face and tiny hands” will fly over London during Trump’s UK visit.
Hurkmans said: “We are just a small group of friends who set out to use humour to take a stand against the rise of racist and fascist politics both here in the UK and over in the US. “We have been genuinely overwhelmed and touched by the incredible levels of support we have received for our project.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan approved the blimp, though not without some careful thought and subsequent backlash. "We didn’t get off to the best start with the Mayor’s office over this,” stated fellow activist and group member Leo Murray, “who originally told us that they didn’t recognise Trump Baby as legitimate protest. But following a huge groundswell of public support for our plan, it looks like City Hall has rediscovered its sense of humour."
Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani - a former mayor (of New York) himself - stated to the Sunday Express, "Sadiq Khan should be ashamed of himself. He’s so busy attacking President Trump’s visit and, in the meantime, crime is spiralling in London.” He added: "If crime is going up, he’s obviously not paying attention to his job.”
Meanwhile, a similarly-annoyed Member of the European Parliament suggested, in response to Khan’s approval, that the post of Mayor of London should be scrapped completely.
Another notable Member of the European Parliament, Nigel Farage, has raised objection to Sadiq Khan giving the blimp the green light. He called the project, “the biggest insult to a sitting US President ever”.
Furthermore, as the carnival sets up and the tabloid rumour mill goes into overdrive, it’s transpired that a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a Sadiq Khan baby has actually raised £10,000 more than the Trump baby campaign.
“In light of the Donald Trump 'Baby Trump' ballon being allowed to fly over London during his visit to the U.K.” the page states, “let's get a 'baby Khan' one and see if FREE SPEECH applies to all and whether or not Mr Khan and the London assembly will also approve this.”
“Under Sadiq Khan, we have seen crime sky rocket to unprecedented levels. People in London don't feel safe and they aren't safe, 81 murders this year alone! Khan Out.” They add: “Any surplus money raised will be used for a continuing campaign to remove Sadiq Khan from office and also for defending free speech which is constantly under attack.”
The paradox of tolerance comes into play here and while many left-wing opposers to Trump and his policies have backed the baby, a true libertarian might have to accept his right to free speech and - more importantly - freedom of movement.
Naturally, these are things which Trump himself has shown a lack of respect for and the recent stories of immigrant children torn away from their mothers have done nothing to help his reputation abroad.
Others, while opposed to his politics, believe that Britain and America’s "special relationship" is too important to risk squandering and that, regardless of his or her actions, an American president should be treated with respect while in the UK.
It will be a difficult time for Prime Minister Theresa May, who has raised objection to a number of Trump’s policies. Somewhere between the tongue-biting, the diplomacy and, of course, the bullet-proof glass, Theresa May will have to help make President Trump feel welcome, even if her people can’t.