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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Trump dodges London protests for tea with Queen Elizabeth

US president to skirt protesters, including a blimp "Trump Baby", as he travels outside capital

 (L-R) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and US President Donald J. Trump before the start of the North Atlantic Council round table during a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, 11 July 2018. NATO countries' heads of states and governments gather in Brussels for a two-day meeting. EPA/
 (L-R) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and US President Donald J. Trump before the start of the North Atlantic Council round table during a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, 11 July 2018. NATO countries' heads of states and governments gather in Brussels for a two-day meeting. EPA/

It has been dubbed Storm Trump and the country is braced for a US presidential visit that has split opinion like never before.

Dozens of protests have been organised across the country as organisers seek to mount a "carnival of resistance".

Hundreds of thousands are predicted to come on to the streets to demonstrate against a man they described as “dangerous and divisive.”

In the capital marchers will descend outside the BBC at 2pm on Friday before heading to Trafalgar Square in a rally to stop “the clock be turned back to the darkest moments of human history.”

Meanwhile, Theresa May's government is nervously anticipating disruption from the guest himself. Mr Trump has described the UK as a place in “turmoil.”

Following the departure of senior figures, including foreign minister Boris Johnson and Brexit minister David Davis, the political atmosphere is febrile.

While Mr Johnson may now be a backbencher, Mr Trump said he hoped he would still see the former foreign minister – another blow to the fragile position of Mrs May.

The US ambassador to the UK said meeting Johnson was “not on the schedule but the president makes his own schedule. We’ll make everything possible if the president wants to do something,”

“Boris Johnson’s a friend of mine, he’s been very nice to me, very supportive and maybe I’ll speak to him when I get over there. I like Boris Johnson, I’ve always liked him,” said Mr Trump.

Mr Trump arrives Thursday afternoon following a Nato summit in Brussels and largely avoids the capital’s centre and the protesters. After a dinner for business leaders in Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill, he will spent the night in the ambassador's residence in north London. From there his meetings with Mrs May will be at her country home, Chequers, which offers a “more informal setting,” according to a Downing Street spokesman.

The Stop Trump Coalition accused the president of being “too scared to face protestors.” Mr Trump is hardly likely to catch a glimpse of the six metre giant orange inflatable blimp that depicts him as a screaming baby.

Mr Trump will instead be ensconced at Windsor Castle, west of London on Friday when a blimp tethered next to the Houses of Parliament.

US ambassador Woody Johnson insisted the balloon was not a fair representation of British views. “It’s really kind of irrelevant to what we’re trying to do, and doesn’t express the opinion of the British people that I’ve met,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

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Read more:

British PM heads to Brussels after bruising challenge to leadership

London will see two Trumps: the president and a balloon parody

Donald Trump unloads on America's closest allies in the lead up to Nato summit

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While the many thousands are expected to line the streets and protest against Trump, politicians have become involved too. It was London mayor Sadiq Khan who gave the go ahead for the orange balloon and he clashed on ITV’s This Morning with host Piers Morgan.

Mr Khan defended the blimp baby: “There are two issues; one is the freedom to protest and the right to free speech and the second is our issues on President Trump. Are you honestly saying that the right to protest, the right to assemble, the right to free speech is limited by the ridicule it might cause to someone else?”

Mr Morgan, the forthright journalist and broadcaster, hit back and questioned why the London mayor had not been so vocal over the visit of controversial Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

"You have endorsed this to be flying at Parliament so the images that will go round the world from Trump's visit, which is a very important visit for this country; as we come through Brexit we are going to need a good trade deal with America, he has signaled that he is prepared to give us one and that the image that will go round the world we know is going to be him in a nappy as a baby,” Mr Morgan said.

Mr Trump will spend the weekend in Scotland where he has two golf courses and plans to play at least once.

For protesters in Edinburgh they have a particularly varied day to look forward to. Events will include ‘toss the welly at Trump’ and a Trump coconut shy.