US President Donald Trump lands in United Kingdom, says ‘fine’ with protests

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LONDONPresident Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump touch down in London on Thursday for a working visit, and while his meeting schedule will keep him nearly exclusively outside of the capital, she will be spending some time in town.

While the White House had previously denied the president's schedule in London was meant to keep him away from the protests, Trump admitted as much in an interview with the British-owned tabloid "The Sun". "I would actually say that she probably went the opposite way".

Addressing the USA president in front of an audience of business leaders and senior ministers, Mrs May said: "As we prepare to leave the European Union, we have an unprecedented opportunity to do more".

He said her former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, would make an "excellent" prime minister, speaking just days after Johnson resigned his position in protest over May's Brexit plans.

President Donald Trump, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, First Lady Melania Trump and Philip May stand on the steps in the Great Court to watch the bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards perform a ceremonial welcome as they arrive for a black-tie dinner with business leaders at Blenheim Palace, west of London, on July 12, 2018, on the first day of President Trump's visit to the UK.

When asked for his views on Brexit, which he has previously backed, Trump said "it's not for me to say what they should be doing in the UK. But maybe they're taking a little bit of a different route, so I don't know if that's what they voted for", he said.

He also told the tabloid that he'd shared advice with May during Britain's negotiations with the European Union and she ignored it.

Ruddy's glowing descriptions of the dinner and the relationship between Trump and May contrasted sharply with an interview Thursday in the British tabloid The Sun in which Trump criticized May and complimented her opponents.

"I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London", Trump said, referring to a 20-foot "Trump Baby" blimp that protesters are expected to fly over Parliament Square Friday. "And I think that's why you have Brexit in the first place, because of immigration".

Sarah Elliott, chairwoman of Republicans Overseas UK, told CNN she did not think Trump would be fazed by the stunt.

"I'm very happy he is coming", said one drinker. "Now, for the benefit of all our people, let us work together to build a more prosperous future", she said in excerpts released in advance.

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Protesters gathered outside the U.S. ambassador's residence in London, where the Trumps are staying tonight, and near Blenheim Palace.

"I ... partially won an election because of immigration", he said, also pointing to Italy's recent vote, in which Giuseppe Conte took leadership of the government after campaigning on a populist anti-immigration platform.

"I'm going to a pretty hot spot right now, right?"

The interview posted online as Prime Minister May welcomed President Trump and the first lady at Blenheim Palace for a lavish gala dinner.

Trump insisted, however, that most in the United Kingdom were "delighted" about his visit even as he took a shot at London mayor Sadiq Khan for not taking a harder line on immigration and painted the city as a hub for terrorism.

Anti-Trump protesters lined the road up to the building, but it is unlikely the Trumps - who arrived via helicopter - saw them.

Trump was greeted at the palace by May, whose government has been rocked by resignations from ongoing tumult over Brexit.

The mood was far less jovial in Belgium earlier in the day.

Trump arrived at Stansted Airport, north of London, early Thursday afternoon.

Trump claimed member nations had agreed to boost their defense budgets significantly and reaffirmed - after days of griping that the US was being taken advantage of by its allies - that the USA remains faithful to the accord.

After a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit where he provoked a crisis session to force allies to raise their defence spending, Trump cast doubt on May's Brexit plans, echoing remarks earlier in the week where he described Britain as being in turmoil.

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