Trump Met By Protesters, Some Supporters Upon Arrival In London

Jun 3, 2019
Originally published on June 3, 2019 3:43 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Trump and the first lady spent most of today with the royal family in London meeting with Queen Elizabeth, sharing tea with her son, Prince Charles, and being honored at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. Demonstrators were ready to greet the president - some to cheer, others to challenge him.

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QUEEN ELIZABETH II: Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you all to rise and drink a toast to President and Mrs. Trump, for the continued friendship between our two nations and to the health, prosperity and happiness of the people of the United States.

SHAPIRO: Demonstrators were ready to greet the president - some to cheer, others to challenge him.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Go home. Go home. Go home.

SHAPIRO: We are joined now by NPR's Frank Langfitt, who was with those crowds outside Buckingham Palace. Hi, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Describe what the scene looked like. Was the crowd outside the palace mostly protesters or supporters?

LANGFITT: Mostly protesters. It's London. They're not very fond of President Trump. And this evening, they actually were up kind of - the police had corralled them behind a wall, and they were banging pots and pans and basically trying to make that state dinner as unpleasant as possible. I doubt - Buckingham Palace is huge. I doubt President Trump heard them.

SHAPIRO: Well, what were they specifically upset about? What issues brought them into the streets?

LANGFITT: You know, it's a whole number of things. But basically I'd boil it down to this. They feel that basically President Trump doesn't, you know, support the values or represent the values of London and the United Kingdom. They see him - of course, anti-immigration. They see him as very intolerant of people who are different.

I was talking to a woman named Hada Moreno. She's a student and a mother originally from Mexico. And she sees Trump as actually also influencing populist politics in Europe and here in the United Kingdom, especially with Brexiteer politicians. This is what she had to say, Ari.

HADA MORENO: Here in the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson and Farage are co-opting the Trump formula of politics of fear, of rhetoric.

LANGFITT: And so, Ari, what she sees is a real connection - a political connection between some of the anti-immigrant policies in both countries. And in fact, over the weekend, President Trump all but endorsed former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to replace the outgoing prime minister, Theresa May. Boris Johnson was a hardcore Brexiteer.

And Mr. Farage, who she was mentioning - he was a political figure - still is very much in this country - who made immigration a big issue in the 2016 Brexit referendum. President Trump thinks he's a great guy and thinks he should handle Brexit negotiations with the EU.

SHAPIRO: You said London's not an especially friendly place to Trump.

LANGFITT: No.

SHAPIRO: And most of the people in the crowd were opposed to him. But you did speak to some supporters. What did they say?

LANGFITT: I did, and that was really - this was really interesting. I met a guy named Dave Rennie. He's a photographer. And he had come in from the suburbs. He was holding his daughter as President Trump came by in that giant black limousine. And this is what Dave had to say.

DAVE RENNIE: I came to support Trump because I knew there'd be a lot of opposition. So I wanted to show that not all of Britain are here to oppose him, yeah.

LANGFITT: And so tell me. Why do you support the president?

RENNIE: For me, he's putting his country first, which I think every country should do. I think Britain should do that. I think America should do it.

LANGFITT: And that really ties in also to the concept of Brexit. You know, Brexit is very much a Britain-first kind of policy, and that is leave the EU and chart its own course. Now, I was listening to - actually, it was very interesting. Rennie and Moreno actually debated about Trump for 20 minutes - completely different kinds of people, completely different points of view. Moreno believes in a multicultural society. Rennie is a Brexit supporter, thinks the country can't absorb certain people from different countries and from different backgrounds.

It's interesting to see how Trump sort of brought them together in front of Buckingham Palace, also divided them. One thing, though - I will say this, Ari. Even as people were making these - having these sorts of debates, particularly these two people, they remained civil.

SHAPIRO: Well, civil could not describe President Trump's tone on Twitter today. As he was arriving in London, he was tweeting some very pointed things about the mayor, Sadiq Khan, calling him nasty and a stone-cold loser. How are people in London reacting to that?

LANGFITT: Well, in some ways, I mean, they're kind of used to this. So the president - even before he came - when he came last year, there was controversy that surrounded his visit. He insulted Prime Minister May. I think Trump supporters - and again, as you point out, there's not a lot here - think that Mayor Khan shouldn't have goaded the president.

Now, on Sunday - there is a backstory to this. Mayor Khan compared Trump's electoral tactics to the fascists of the 20th century in Europe in a newspaper article that he wrote. That said, most people, I think, in London think Trump should not have insulted Khan, especially even before his Air Force One had actually touched down at Stansted north of London.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Frank Langfitt in London covering President Trump's state visit to the U.K. Thanks a lot, Frank.

LANGFITT: Happy to do it, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.