'Thick-skinned' Trump to visit London despite protests

AFP , Friday 27 Apr 2018

May and Trump
In this file photo taken on September 20, 2017 British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) addresses the press as US President Donald Trump listens during a meeting at the Palace Hotel in New York, on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. (SOURCE: AFP)

Donald Trump will defy protests to visit London during his July working trip to Britain, the US ambassador said Friday, adding that the US President was "very thick-skinned."

"He'll definitely be coming to London. We welcome him, we're so happy to have him," Woody Johnson, the ambassador in London, told LBC Radio, following reports that the president may avoid London, where widespread protests are planned.

"He's very thick-skinned. He knows what he wants to do and he speaks in a very clear and unusual way from most politicians.

"Most politicians don't weigh it out the way he does and so he is going to get a lot of criticism for that as people interpret where he is taking everything.

"But I think in the end, people are starting to, even now, realise that where he is going is a good direction."

The visit, which will take place on July 13, had been repeatedly delayed amid a series of diplomatic spats and fears it could be marred by huge protests.

British Prime Minister Theresa May controversially offered Trump a state visit when she was the first foreign leader to visit him shortly after entering the White House, provoking uproar at home following the president's travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries.

British lawmakers called on May to withdraw the offer, while protesters have promised to turn out in record numbers.

"Anybody any good at making placards?" British opposition lawmaker David Lammy asked cheekily on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Guardian columnist Owen Jones, a prominent leftwing activist, called for "everybody out on the streets".

Trump has repeatedly clashed with London mayor Sadiq Khan on Twitter, and the British official predicted a hot reception for the president.

"If he comes to London, President Trump will experience an open and diverse city that has always chosen unity over division and hope over fear," he wrote on Twitter.

"He will also no doubt see that Londoners hold their liberal values of freedom of speech very dear."

The Daily Telegraph reported Trump will meet Queen Elizabeth II and go to Chequers, the prime minister's country retreat.

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