Travel Information: US President Donald Trump is set to undertake a three-day “working visit” to the United Kingdom, beginning late on 12 July 2018. His arrival will follow the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, between 11 and 12 July. President Trump is believed to be flying into London Stansted airport, before heading to the US Ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park and dinner at Blenheim Palace. The Queen is expected to host President Trump at Windsor Castle, which will be closed to the public on 13 July. He is also set to dine with Prime Minister Theresa May and visit the prime minister’s country retreat Chequers. It is also believed that he will head to Scotland to visit one or both of the golf courses he owns, Turnberry in Ayrshire and the Trump International Golf Links Scotland, in Aberdeenshire. It is unclear if he will meet the First Minister while in Scotland. President Trump’s full itinerary is unknown at this time and it is possible that even if a final itinerary is published, it may change with little notice.
The US-UK “special relationship” has shown some strain through the first 18 months of the Trump administration. The UK government has expressed displeasure with the imposition of US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Europe and for other isolationist trade moves such as imposing an almost 300 per cent import tariff on the Bombardier C-series aircraft (which was subsequently overturned). Through his twitter account, the US president also reposted an Islamophobic video published by a far-right British hate group. Trump has also been vocal in his displeasure over the relocation of the US embassy in London, calling it a “bad deal” in a “lousy location”, culminating in his refusal to attend the opening ceremony. However, commentators have suggested that fears of unrest may also have driven this decision. Prime Minister Theresa May has been keen to tread a fine line with Trump and was one of the first foreigner leaders to visit the president after his election. May is hoping for a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, which Trump proclaims will be forthcoming (Trump was notably supportive of the UK leaving the European Union). However, with his recent anti-free trade moves, and suggestions he would pull the US out of the World Trade Organisation, it is unclear how successful or impactful a unilateral trade deal would be for either party. It is unclear what impact this visit by Trump will have on the US-UK alliance, but much may be impacted by the success (or failure) of the NATO summit in the days before.
President Trump has not proved to be as popular with the UK populous as his predecessor. A petition against his visit was signed by nearly 1.9 million people (a counter-petition was signed by 317,000 people). His policies in the Middle East and on immigration have proved to be particularly unpopular with some in the UK. After his inauguration in January 2017, thousands protested in the London “Women’s March”, a sister event to those being held around the world, most prominently in Washington DC.
Protests are already being planned to coincide with the visit of Donald Trump and spontaneous unrest is also expected. The “Stop Trump Coalition” are planning a number of demonstrations across the UK between 12 to 14 July with the most significant expected to be in London on 13 July. Activists are set to assemble at 1400hrs outside the BBC building in Portland Place before marching through Oxford Circus and down Regent Street to Trafalgar Square where a rally will be held between 1700 and1900hrs. As of 02 July 2018, 55,000 people have said they are attending the march on the Facebook event page with another 155,000 interested in attending – it is unclear how many will actually attend. It has been suggested that this has not been made a state visit, as originally planned, in order to keep Trump away from protests in central London. Protests of some type are likely to follow President Trump wherever he goes during the visit.
There is also the potential for anti-Trump activists to clash not only with the police but also with Trump’s UK supporters. A pro-Trump rally involving supporters of jailed English Defence League (EDL) founder Tommy Robinson is set to take place on 14 July outside Downing Street. A Facebook event page suggests 4,000 people will attend. An EDL counter-protest is set to occur the same day, with violent clashes possible.
Up to 250 armed US secret service agents will be permitted to travel with the president. His visit is expected to entail a £5 million security operation, require the mobilisation of 10,000 police officers to deal with an array of threats, from civil unrest to the potential for a terror attack. To limit the potential for a security incident, President Trump is expected to make most journeys via a helicopter. The greatest security challenge will come if the US president does decide to play golf in Scotland. The vast open spaces may cause a security headache for UK police. Though this issue may be partly mitigated by the significantly lower population density compared to open areas. There are also concerns that crime will increase in other areas of the country as resources are committed to deal with the US president’s visit.
There is the potential for unorganised and unauthorised protests. Unlike demonstrations with planned permissions from the authorities in the United Kingdom, illegal protests have more potential to turn violent, especially if involving politically-extreme groups. Travellers should avoid these large gatherings and prepare for disruption to travel in all impacted areas across the United Kingdom due to unrest and enhanced security measures. Due to security forces being on a high state of alert, all instructions given by officials should be adhered to. It should be noted that President Trump’s itinerary is not expected to significantly impact high-population areas or areas most likely to visited by travellers.
Travellers are advised to maintain at least the usual level of situational awareness and employ appropriate levels of personal security at all times. Solace Global would not advise clients of the need to implement heightened physical security measures when visiting the United Kingdom. Travellers should consider employing a travel tracking system with an integrated intelligence feed, to allow employers to effectively execute duty of care, and permit the traveller to remain up to date with potential threats. For more information on the planned demonstrations against the visit of Donald Trump, please see –https://www.stoptrump.org.uk/events/.