Trump UK visit: President faces frosty reception when he arrives in UK, poll suggests

Survey suggests British public wants Theresa May to be more critical of her US counterpart, but thinks she is right to pursue UK-US trade deal

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Sunday 08 July 2018 01:36
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Inflatable depicting Donald Trump as an angry baby to be flown over London during US president's visit

Donald Trump faces a frosty reception when he arrives in the UK later this week, but people still believe Theresa May is right to engage with him in pursuit of a trade deal, a new poll has revealed.

The BMG survey for The Independent showed more people thinking it was wrong to invite him to Britain, supporting protests against him and thinking Theresa May should be more critical of her opposite number.

But it also revealed a pragmatic streak in public opinion, with more people thinking the UK should make “every effort” to oblige the US leader and believing a quick trade deal is possible after Brexit.

Ms May has faced sustained criticism for inviting Mr Trump to Britain despite widespread outrage over his treatment of Muslims, immigrants and other minority groups. Most recently, his administration provoked global condemnation by locking up the children of illegal immigrants in cages, away from their parents.

Opposition politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn have demanded the UK rescind the invitation in protest at Mr Trump’s policies.

According to the BMG poll, more people think Mr Trump should not have been invited to Britain, with 42 per cent of people saying Ms May was wrong to extend the invitation compared to 37 per cent who think it was the right decision.

The poll also found that the British public wants Ms May to be more critical of her US counterpart. 39 per cent of people said she should take a tougher stance, compared to just 10 per cent who want her to be more friendly towards Mr Trump. 32 per cent said she currently has the balance right.

Despite this, most people said they did not think the visit would legitimise Mr Trump or his policies, with 53 per cent seeing the invitation as little more than a “diplomatic gesture”. Only 24 per cent thought the invitation legitimised the US president.

Mr Trump’s visit is set to take place amid widespread demonstrations against the US president. His schedule involves minimal time in London, where thousands of people are expected to take to the streets in protest.

A giant blimp depicting the Republican as a baby is due to fly over central London after Sadiq Khan, the mayor, gave his permission for the stunt to go ahead.

Despite public opposition to the visit, the poll revealed fewer than one in three people - 31 per cent - support the anti-Trump protests, while 29 per cent oppose them.

With officials attempting to keep him away from the protests, Mr Trump will attend a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, the former home of Winston Churchill, before travelling to Chequers for talks with Ms May. He will meet the Queen at Windsor Castle and later travel to Scotland, where is expected to visit one of his golf courses.

Nicola Sturgeon mocks Donald Trump over climate change ahead of UK visit

Downing Street has said Ms May and Mr Trump will use their meeting at Chequers to discuss a future trade deal.

The BMG poll revealed the British supports attempts to engage with the US president with a view to securing such an agreement.

Close to half of people – 44 per cent - agreed that the UK “must make every effort to accommodate” Mr Trump in order to negotiate a trade agreement once Britain leaves the EU, compared to 36 per cent who disagreed.

The poll also found public optimism about the prospect of the UK quickly agreeing such a deal.

53 per cent of people thought an agreement with the US was either very likely or somewhat likely to be in place by 2021, compared to 26 per cent who thought it unlikely.

BMG Research interviewed a representative sample of 1,511 GB adults online between 3 and 5 July. Data are weighted. BMG are members of the British Polling Council and abide by their rules.

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