President Donald Trump will be on his way to Britain later on Thursday, his three-day working visit will include meeting Prime Minister Theresa May, Queen Elizabeth II and business leaders before he heads to Scotland for a weekend of golf.
A range of foreign policy issues ranging from Russia, trade, Brexit and the Middle East are all on the agenda when May and Trump meet. Trump’s visit is controversial, however, and mass protests are planned in various locations throughout the country, including London where a giant balloon depicting Trump as a baby is set to hover over the city.
Unsurprisingly, the visit has prompted a lot of press coverage and comment. The British print media are notoriously partisan (they’re allowed to be, whereas British television broadcasters have to adhere to impartiality rules) and here are the various takes on the Trump visit from newspapers across the political spectrum:
The Guardian: The left-leaning Guardian broadsheet sums up the lead-up to Trump’s arrival on Thursday afternoon with: “The protests have already begun, police leave has been cancelled, while the prime minister and her foreign secretary are nervously preparing for any potential mishaps, gaffes or insults: Donald Trump is finally arriving in the U.K.,” correspondents Peter Walker and Vikram Dodd said Wednesday.
Calling Trump a “capricious president,” Walker and Dodd said that despite the trip being a working visit rather than an earlier mooted state visit, “May and her ministers still hope to flatter Trump with pomp and royalty.”
The Telegraph: The right-leaning, pro-Brexit broadsheet focused on how Trump’s visit might be a boost to Brexit negotiations which remain as messy and divisive as ever — most recently prompting two senior ministers (including Trump’s “friend” Boris Johnson) to resign — putting more pressure on May’s EU exit plans.
U.S. Editor Ben Riley-Smith and Chief Political Correspondent Christopher Hope wrote in the paper Wednesday that sources had told them “Donald Trump could voice support for a hard Brexit during his U.K. visit, allies of the president have predicted in a move that would pile pressure on Theresa May.”
“Sources close to Mr Trump have told The Telegraph that he is a supporter of a clean break with Brussels and may say so publicly if asked,” they added. “The U.S. president believes Germany dominates the European Union and wants Britain to be ‘independent’,” Riley-Smith and Hope noted, citing anonymous “well-placed” sources.
The Sun: Reflecting on Trump’s performance at the NATO summit this week, where he lambasted members for not spending enough on defense, The Sun, a conservative tabloid whose views chime with Trump’s populism, commented that “Donald Trump is absolutely bang on to demand NATO step up its response to Russian aggression.”
The paper welcomed his visit to the U.K., noting “the prime minister has taken the right decision to treat Donald Trump with the respect his office deserves and we look forward to his visit.”
The Financial Times: The FT’s Chief Political Commentator Philip Stephens said Thursday that the idea of a “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K. had been a burden ever since Prime Minister Winston Churchill used the term in a speech in 1946. He thought hopes that Trump could be counted on by the U.K. were misguided, however.
“Having blown up the bridges to Europe, however, the Brexiters have promoted instead the delusion that Britain and the U.S. can recreate the mythical special relationship … The president does not believe in Atlanticism. Nor in alliances grounded in shared interests and values. The U.S. has to win — every time.”
The Scotsman: Trump will travel to Scotland Friday evening and is expected to play golf at one of his two golf courses before heading on to Helsinki to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. As with the English part of his trip, however, protests are set to greet the half-Scottish president.
The Scotsman’s columnist Lesley Riddoch wrote an article earlier this week entitled “Trump protests are an obligation for us Scots.”
“The nerve of the man is virtually an incitement to protest on its own — but is protest worthwhile?” Riddoch asks. “For migrants. For children. For a sustainable planet. But above all for our own values and the way Scots express ourselves. Trump is not welcome here and we need to make sure he knows it.”