A 20-foot-tall inflatable orange baby with the face of President Donald Trump will float over Britain’s parliament next week, one of many acts of protest planned to coincide with Trump’s first visit to the U.K. since taking office.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected to march in London, Scotland and elsewhere during his trip, which takes place amid a growing transatlantic trade war and global dismay at the treatment of immigrant families at the U.S. border.
Britain is keen to reinforce its special relationship with Washington as it prepares to leave the European Union, a divorce that will shape the country’s standing in the world.
But Trump’s visit has already been scaled down after months of back-and-forth; the president canceled plans to open the new U.S. Embassy in January and his official state visit — opposed in a petition by at least 1.9 million Brits — appears to be on ice.
Trump will instead pay a working visit on July 13 for bilateral talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May, a meeting with the queen and possibly a round of golf in Scotland, where he owns two resorts.
Sir Christopher Meyer, a former British ambassador to Washington and author of “D.C. Confidential,” said Trump’s “deeply controversial” reputation made it “unlikely he’ll be strolling around Trafalgar Square” or any other prominent sites that could pose a security risk.
“The easiest answer to avoiding demonstrators is using helicopters,” he said. “That makes it possible to get about without being much bothered by protests at all.”
Mass anti-Trump marches have been more than a year in the planning, after May first extended an invitation for Trump to visit the U.K. in early 2017.
The largest are planned in London, where organizers of Together Against Trump estimate up to 100,000 people, including labor unions and rights groups, will march through the center of the city to Trafalgar Square.
The people behind last year’s successful Women’s March are staging a Bring The Noise rally earlier on the same day to end in Parliament Square, opposite the House of Commons. (You can already buy the t-shirt.)
“We’re planning a proper British welcome for Trump,” said Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, 42, a co-organizer of the march and founder of Women in Leadership.
“Change for tolerance, justice and equality is no longer jurisdictional but global,” she said. “We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. I cannot stand by and be complicit through silence as intolerance, injustice and discrimination shape hostile policies, laws and environments for many. If all I have is my voice and vote, I will make them count.”
A quieter but eye-catching protest is planned by Leo Murray, 41, who received permission Thursday to fly a helium-filled blimp of Trump as a baby during the visit.
“Moral outrage has no affect on Trump because he has no shame, he’s immune to it,” the climate campaigner said.
“But he has a tremendously fragile ego so ridicule is an effective form of protest,” he added. “So we want to make sure he knows that all of Britain is looking down on him and laughing at him.”
Crowdsourced funding for the specially-commissioned $6,500 balloon was easily achieved, but Murray has yet to secure permission from city officials to tether the blimp to Parliament Square. However, he remains confident that his “Trump Baby” will be in the skies over London. “This is exactly the kind of non-violent but effective protest that they should be encouraging,” he said.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Alastair Jamieson