The U.K. has (almost) rolled out the red carpet for President Donald Trump’ three-day “working visit” to the country, although his presence has not been universally welcomed by any means by either the public or U.K. politicians.
Protests are due to take place in various locations while Trump is here. He is set to meet business leaders, Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II before he heads to Scotland for some golf. He then leaves for Helsinki to meet Russian President Putin on Monday.
With a litany of controversial comments and actions behind him, Trump is not a very popular leader in Britain, at least not with the public.
A YouGov/ITV poll published Thursday shows broad support for Trump’s visit but that he is held in low regard. Only around one in six (17 percent) of 1,648 people polled on July 9 and July 10 had a favorable view of Trump, compared to three quarters (77 percent) having an unfavorable view. The majority of Britons polled think Trump is sexist and racist.
But what about Britain’s top brass, who are trained in the art of diplomacy?
Here’s what some of the U.K.’s top politicians have said about Trump in the past (and it’s not always been that diplomatic):
Prime Minister Theresa May: Ever the pragmatist, Theresa May is keen to maintain and protect the so-called “special relationship” between the U.K. and U.S. and has focused any comments about the trip on protecting this, rather than praising Trump.
She has said in December 2016, soon after Trump’s election win, that she found him “very, very easy to talk to.” When Trump claimed that parts of London were no-go areas for the police, however, she said: “I just think it shows he does not understand the U.K. and what happens in the U.K.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan: There’s no love lost between Trump and Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor who has allowed a giant balloon of Trump depicted as a baby to fly over London during his U.K. visit. The two have traded barbs several times.
Most recently, Trump accused Khan of giving a “pathetic excuse” after the mayor told Londoners to stay calm after the London Bridge terrorist attack in June 2017.
Khan hit back, accusing him of trying to divide communities with his calls for a Muslim travel ban: “Some people thrive on feud and division. We are not going to let Donald Trump divide our communities,” he told the BBC last year just after Trump’s comments. Speaking to Sky News too, he said: “I just haven’t got time to respond to tweets from Donald Trump. Honestly I’ve got better and more important things to focus on.”
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: Trump might have met his match in the U.K.’s most prominent eccentric and outspoken politician, Boris Johnson.
“I am increasingly admiring of Donald Trump. I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness,” Johnson was recorded saying at a closed-door gathering at the Institute of Directors in June 2018.
This from a man who had previously said Trump was “clearly out of his mind” for wanting to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. And in 2015, when he was mayor of London, said “I would invite him to come and see the whole of London … except that I wouldn’t want to expose Londoners to any risk of meeting Donald Trump.”
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage: The former leader of the right-wing U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) and figurehead of Brexit, Nigel Farage, has long been a fan of Trump. So much so that when Trump won the U.S. election, Farage was the first politician to travel to the U.S. to meet him.
Farage, who has made a career out of lambasting the European Union and and promoting the Brexit cause, said Trump would be good for the U.K. “I think, for the United Kingdom, Trump will be better for us than Barack Obama’s been, of that there’s no doubt,” he told CNN, adding: “Donald Trump dares to talk about things that other people want to brush under the carpet.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: The leader of the opposition Labour party has questioned the “special relationship” several times, saying earlier this year that Britain has “many important relationships” and that Trump was a disappointment.
“The biggest disappointment of Donald Trump is — apart from his endless offensive remarks about women, about minorities and about different faiths — is his failure to support international institutions like the United Nations and like Unesco,” he told ITV’s “Peston On Sunday” in January.
Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry: Labour’s Emily Thornberry has not been one to pull her punches when talking about Trump, calling him a “bully” on one recent interview.
“We share values with the United States, we do not share values with Donald Trump when he wants to walk away from the Paris Climate Change (agreement), when he wants to tear up the Iran nuclear deal. I’m happy to say that openly and I will say it to his face, I have no problem with that,” Thornberry told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show in June. “In my view when you have a bully like that you stand up to them and you’re clear about what it is you disagree (with).”
She has also tweeted out her opposition to the U.K. government cozying up to Trump:
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt: He’s only been in the job for a few days after Boris Johnson’s shock departure on Monday, but the former health secretary has had a run in with Trump on Twitter in the past.
Arguing over free health-care provision like that available in the U.K., under the NHS, Hunt responded to a Trump jibe over universal health care saying: “(The) NHS may have challenges but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage — where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance.”
Nick Clegg, former leader of the Liberal Democrats: A keen opponent of Brexit and the former deputy prime minister has also rounded on Trump, saying he will join protests during his trip. Taking to Twitter on Thursday, Nick Clegg said “Donald Trump has every right to visit. We have every right to say he’s wrong.”
What the UK’s top politicians have said about Trump — and it's not always nice