By Paul Waugh
Donald Trump’s wife Melania is set to bear the brunt of London protests against his visit, while the President watches a counter-terrorism role-play exercise at a secret location outside the capital.
With demonstrators due to mass in Westminster on Friday for the launch of a ‘Trump Baby’ balloon, the First Lady will also be in the city at an event to meet schoolchildren and veterans, Downing Street has revealed.
But while Melania is in London, her husband will be many miles away as he attends a joint operation by American and British special forces – likely to include the SAS – and sees first hand “cutting edge” military hardware used by both countries.
Mrs Trump will be accompanied on her London engagement by Philip May, the Prime Minister’s spouse, and security is likely to be very tight for the as yet unspecified event.
A giant inflatable baby Donald Trump will fly up to 30m in the air on Friday. The inflatable, which has been described by Nigel Farage as “the biggest insult to a sitting US President ever”, will float in front of the House of Commons.
The US President is already facing claims that he is ‘running scared’ of protestors as his trip appears designed to ensure he spends as little time as possible in London.
Although he will overnight at the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park on Thursday, he is not expected to visit No.10 Downing Street, Parliament, Buckingham Palace or any other central London location.
Trump will instead be treated to a black tie dinner with businessmen and Cabinet ministers at Blenheim Palace in rural Oxfordshire, a working lunch with Theresa May at her Chequers country house retreat and tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle.
The Windsor Castle meeting with the Queen will see the Coldstream Guards play the American national as the President arrives.
He will then fly north for two days in Scotland, where he is expected to stay at one of his golf resorts, before flying out to Helsinki for a crunch summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell will greet Trump as he arrives at Prestwick airport, but inn what will be seen as a clear snub to one of his biggest critics, the President has no plans to meet Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The Chequers meeting will involve substantive bilateral talks with the Prime Minister on a range of foreign policy issues including Russia, trade, Brexit, and the Middle East. The two leaders would get just “five to ten minutes” on their own before being joined by new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt for a working lunch.
Unveiling the latest details of the “working visit”, a No10 spokeswoman said that the PM and President will visit a “defence site” on Friday morning. No journalists will be allowed to cover the event.
“UK and US special forces will be involved in a demonstration which will involve a counter-terrorism scenario and an outdoor capabilities demonstration showing equipment that the [British] special forces use when they conduct joint operations with their US counterparts,” she said.
“The President and the PM will also have an opportunity to talk to special forces, to meet US officer cadets who are studying at the defence site they will be visiting.
“Since 2008 there has always been one US cadet in each intake, there are three intakes a year, ensuring that both British and American officers gain experience in their army careers of each other’s cultures and ways of working. This entire visit is off-camera, the Defence Secretary will also attend.”
“For us it’s about showing him our cutting-edge military capabilities and integrated UK-US defence training. It’s obviously something that we know is worth him seeing.”
Downing Street did not know what the First Lady would be doing in Scotland, stressing that was a ‘private’ section of the official visit, but did reveal she would attend the dinner at Blenheim, tea with the Queen and the London event.
“On Friday she is going to have a separate programme in London, and because it’s in London I’m not able to share the location but she plans to meet veterans and local schoolchildren. She will be accompanied by Philip May,” the spokeswoman said. “It’s likely to be the same time as the defence visit.”
Ahead of the visit, the Prime Minister issued a statement declaring that she wanted to show that after Brexit the UK-US ‘special relationship’ would continue.
“When we leave the European Union we will begin to chart a new course for Britain in the world and our global alliances will be stronger than ever,” she said.
“There is no stronger alliance than that of our special relationship with the US and there will be no alliance more important in the years ahead.”
The Blenheim Palace dinner will see US firms Blackrock and Blackstone in attendance, while British companies will include drinks giant Diageo, racing car manufacturers McLaren and engineers Arup.