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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Trump avoids politics, but not controversy in Scotland

Scottish protesters can't put Trump off his golf game

US President Donald Trump waves to protesters while playing golf at Turnberry golf club, in Turnberry, Scotland, Saturday, July 14, 2018.AP
US President Donald Trump waves to protesters while playing golf at Turnberry golf club, in Turnberry, Scotland, Saturday, July 14, 2018.AP

US President Donald Trump just wanted to enjoy a round of gold at his luxury Scottish golf resort before jetting off to Helsinki for a major summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but protesters had other ideas.

What was supposed to be a leisurely round of 18 holes was met with dozens of protesters telling the president to “go home”, while at one point a paraglider flew over the course trailing a sign that read “Well below par”.

Mr Trump had arrived in the UK on Thursday for a four-day visit to the UK, the final two of which he was scheduled to spend at Trump Turnberry, his extravagant Scottish golf resort.

But with most of the major political appointments having been held on Friday, Mr Trump headed to Scotland for what he called “two days of meetings, calls and hopefully, some golf – my primary form of exercise!”

The golf resort may be hemorrhaging money, but it remains a jewel in the Trump crown, and a rather expensive demonstration of Donald Trump’s Scottish lineage.

The protesters did not appear to put off President Trump, who at one point walked to the edge of the fairway trailed by a dozen buggies loaded with secret service agents in order to wave at the demonstrators.

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Off the greens, a diplomatic spat risked flaring up early on Saturday, after it was revealed that Mr Trump’s Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, had complained to the British ambassador in Washington over the treatment of Tommy Robinson, a far-right activist recently jailed for contempt of court.

Mr Brownback reportedly told UK Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch that the US might be compelled to publicly criticise the government’s handling of the case if they didn’t treat Mr Robinson more sympathetically.

Activists labelled the revelation an “extraordinary interference”.

Mr Trump also drew criticism for “berating” a number of British business leaders in a dinner at Blenheim palace on Thursday night, according to reports in The Telegraph.

Before his arrival the president drew censure, even from some of his UK supporters, after he directly criticised Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations efforts, going so far to as to say she had “wrecked Brexit”, and that the current deal would “probably kill” the prospects of a special trade deal with the US.

He later rowed back, calling the article in The Sun newspaper ‘fake news’ before proceeding to heap praise on Boris Johnson, Mrs May’s bitter rival and former foreign secretary, tipping him as a future prime minister in a press conference at Chequers.

The visit was largely scheduled to avoid central London, where more than 100,000 protesters gathered yesterday to demonstrate against the president’s visit. An inflatable balloon depicting Mr Trump wearing a nappy was raised outside parliament square in Westminster.

Yet the President was not without his supporters, with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox labelling the demonstrators “an embarrassment to themselves”.

He will travel to Helsinki late on Sunday for the hastily-convened summit with President Putin.