A 'carnival of protest' planned across Britain

EDINBURGH/LONDON • A barrage of nationwide protests will greet United States President Donald Trump's four-day trip to Britain from Thursday, with organisers hoping to stage one of the country's biggest demonstrations in decades following a series of diplomatic spats.

The divisive American leader, arriving after a Nato summit in Brussels, will be largely away from London during a tour expected to bring tens of thousands of people onto British streets.

"We are confident that there will be huge demonstrations against Trump wherever he visits," said Mr Chris Nineham, of the Stop the War Coalition, which is helping to stage the so-called "carnival of protest".

The US President appears unpopular in Britain, where his brash style and hardline "America First" policies have caused consternation across the political spectrum and society.

He was severely criticised last November, including by Prime Minister Theresa May, after sharing three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos posted by far-right group Britain First.

Opposition lawmakers, backed by an online petition signed by nearly 1.9 million people, called on Mrs May to cancel the state visit offered when she met Mr Trump in Washington after his inauguration in January last year.

Following the incident and several other diplomatic spats, his first trip to Britain since taking power was repeatedly delayed and scaled back, with speculation that it has now been designed to avoid the demonstrations.

The US Ambassador in London Woody Johnson told reporters last Friday that Mr Trump was aware of the planned protests but "is not avoiding anything".

The centrepiece of the organised opposition will be a march through central London ending in a rally on Trafalgar Square. Organisers are providing buses from more than a dozen British cities to the protest, urging attendees to "bring banners, loud-hailers, sound systems and everything you need to kick-start the revolution".

The "Stop Trump Coalition", a network of grassroots campaigns, unions, non-government groups and politicians, said in a statement on Facebook that Friday "could be a march of millions".

Mr Trump will be holding talks at that time with Mrs May at Chequers, the 16th-century manor house outside London that serves as her official country retreat.

The coalition has pledged multiple demonstrations along every step of his planned itinerary, which will include meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on Friday.

In Scotland, a major demonstration is planned in Glasgow, its biggest city, on Friday ahead of a march through the streets of Edinburgh, the capital, on Saturday.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2018, with the headline 'A 'carnival of protest' planned across Britain'. Print Edition | Subscribe