After making a splash at the NATO summit in Brussels—thanks to both his ever unexpected politics and the politics of Melania Trump’s nearly naked dress—Donald Trump has moved on to the next leg of his Europe trip: the U.K. As it turns out, he’s not the only Donald Trump in town: While he’s off at Windsor Castle having tea with Queen Elizabeth, he’ll also be more present than ever in London, thanks to an oversize inflatable Trump baby balloon—a doppelgänger that London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, gave protesters permission to float over Parliament while Trump goes about his business, which includes having his first-ever meeting (not even an official state visit, but a so-called “working visit”) with the Queen.
So many Brits are committed to making it clear to the president that he's not welcome on their turf—part of a movement referred to as "Stop Trump"—that 10,000 of them petitioned the mayor to allow the bulbous, orange, snarling, shirtless, diapered, smartphone-holding blimp to fly not just over England's capital but over the Parliament Square garden. Not that Khan, who, like many others, has previously had a few Twitter feuds with Trump, needed much convincing; according to a spokesperson, when he gave his approval, he also made a point to mention that he supports the right to peaceful protest, and recognized that, government-approved or not, demonstrations were inevitable.
On Thursday, after a crowd of dozens counted down from 10 and the balloon was launched, one of the activists behind the balloon's creation, Leo Murray, declared it a "victory": "People love it, he hates it, and it's driven him out of London." According to him and many others behind the effort, the protest's success, in large part, lies in its crudeness: "The only way to get through to [Trump] is to get down to his level and talk in a language he understands—one of personal insults."
Thousands more gathered in London for a national rally that afternoon, and even Trump himself has recognized Murray's point that he's been driven out of the city: In an interview with The Sun published on Friday that's already sparked quite the controversy, he confirmed that he planned to largely avoid London, remarking, "When they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?" (To his point, the night he spent at the American ambassador's home in London drew protesters intent on preventing him from getting any rest by playing recordings of cries from children whom his administration has separated from their parents at the Mexican border, as well as some old-fashioned banging of pots and pans.)
Such a commotion could only be expected after not only the increase in protest art that's popped up in the city as of late, but also the backlash when Prime Minister Theresa May extended another invitation to Trump to visit the country, seeing as he'd accepted and then cancelled the first planned visit at the start of the year. Ten thousand signees for the balloon is impressive, though it undeniably pales in comparison to the nearly two million people who signed a petition for May to return the favor to Trump, and this time cancel on him.
No matter where he goes in the U.K., though, the protesters are well aware that the president will see the blimp and their other actions, thanks to his commitment to his Twitter feed. Not that that's stopped the crowd from sharing their outrage elsewhere; get a glimpse of what it's like on the ground across the pond via Instagram, here.
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