LONDON — Remember the giant orange diaper-wearing baby blimp? It’s expected to take to the skies once again in June — only this time it could be even bigger.
Ahead of President Trump’s controversial state visit to Britain, protesters have vowed to make their feelings known once again by launching the inflatable. For thousands, the balloon is so much more than a comedy stunt — it carries a clear message that the president of the United States is not welcome here.
“The Trump baby will definitely fly again,” organizer Leo Murray told the Guardian.
“We have been toying with the idea of a Trump baby hot air balloon, which would be about five times the size. But would cost a huge amount of money — upwards of £70,000,” or about $91,000.
The announcement of Trump’s three-day visit, which is scheduled to begin June 3, has sparked a fierce debate among politicians and residents across Britain. On Facebook, thousands have said they will attend a “Together Against Trump — Stop the State Visit” rally, planned for June 4.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry was one of many who questioned Trump’s invitation.
“It beggars belief that on the very same day Donald Trump is threatening to veto a UN resolution against the use of rape as a weapon of war, Theresa May is pressing ahead with her plans to honour him with a State Visit to the UK,” she said in a statement.
“This is a President who has systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite our two countries, and unless Theresa May is finally going to stand up to him and object to that behaviour, she has no business wasting taxpayers’ money on all the pomp, ceremony and policing costs that will come with this visit.”
Labour lawmaker David Lammy, meanwhile, described Trump in a tweet as “deluded, dishonest xenophobic, narcissistic,” and accused May of “selling out the UK to a serial liar and a cheat.”
Trump’s 2018 visit was downgraded from a state visit to a working visit by May. Working visits are generally more low-key — although the visit still caused widespread protests. During his first trip to Britain as president, Trump was strategically kept away from London, the capital, where thousands of protesters marched and sang in the streets. At the time, posters that read “Trump is a waste man” — British street slang to show disdain — were spotted on bus shelters and billboards across the city.
This time around, however, Trump will receive a full state visit with all the bells and whistles. He can expect to meet Queen Elizabeth II again, and she probably will hold a banquet for him and the first lady.
Trump remains a controversial figure in Britain and has frequently been accused of damaging the close relationship between the two nations. The president has retweeted messages from the far-right extremist group Britain First and has become embroiled in a protracted feud with London Mayor Sadiq Khan — who gave permission for the blimp to fly last summer.
On his last trip, Trump stunned Britons when he eclipsed the queen by walking in front of her at Windsor Castle. Many were alarmed to see the monarch, who was 92 at the time, disappearing behind him during their walk. Trump also was accused of keeping the queen waiting after footage of her checking her watch circulated widely on Twitter.
Trump later denied the allegation that he was late, claiming at a rally in Pennsylvania that he was actually early.