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Trump eyes trade, tea with queen in ‘Britain in turmoil’

The Associated Press

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and British Prime Minister Theresa May wait for the start of the first working session of the G-20 meeting in Hamburg in July 2017.

ReutersLONDON (Reuters) — U.S. President Donald Trump flies into Britain on Thursday for talks with the leader of the United States’ closest ally in Europe, and tea with Queen Elizabeth, set against a backdrop of protests and what he described as the country’s turmoil over Brexit.

Fresh from a NATO summit where Trump chided Germany and other European nations for failing to contribute enough to defense spending, British Prime Minister Theresa May is hoping his trip will boost the close ties between their two nations and help forge a future free trade deal.

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

Trump’s trip coincides with a tumultuous week for May after two senior ministers resigned in protest at her plans for trade with the European Union after Britain leaves next March.

The president has already waded into the debate, saying Britain was “in somewhat turmoil” and that it was up to the people if she stayed in power.

He also said he might speak to Boris Johnson, who quit as foreign secretary over May’s plans for a business-friendly Brexit which was only agreed by her Cabinet last Friday after two years of wrangling.

Trump has long been a supporter of Brexit and has expressed enthusiasm for a wide-ranging trade deal with Britain after it leaves the EU, something heralded by Brexit supporters as being one of the great benefits of exiting the bloc.

“Our trade and investment relationship is unrivalled — we are the largest investors in each other’s economies and every day a million British people go to work for U.S. companies in the U.K. and a million Americans go to work for U.K. companies in the U.S.,” May said.

“This week we have an opportunity to deepen this unique trading relationship and begin discussions about how we will forge a strengthened, ambitious and future-proof trade partnership.”

Trump balloon

However, despite the welcome from May, many Britons remain deeply opposed to Trump’s visit. A YouGov poll on Wednesday showed 77 percent of Britons had an unfavorable opinion of the president and just 50 percent thought his visit should go ahead.

“The president of the United States of America will regretfully have the red carpet rolled out for him by this Conservative government,” Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s leader in the Westminster Parliament, told lawmakers on Wednesday.

“But from the public, the welcome will be far from warm,” he added saying there would be protests across the country against Trump’s “abysmal record on human rights, his repugnant attitude towards women and his disgusting treatment of minorities.”

A high metal fence has been erected around the U.S. ambassador’s central London residence where Trump will spend Thursday night and the embassy has sent out an alert warning Americans in London to keep a low profile in case protests turn violent.

More than 50,000 people have signed up to demonstrate in London on Friday when protesters intend to fly a large balloon over Parliament portraying Trump as an orange, snarling baby.Speech

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