US president Donald Trump is set to touch down in Britain for a highly controversial visit after sparking a new firestorm on the international stage.
Fresh from a fierce row with American allies at a Nato summit, Mr Trump begins a four day trip to the UK that is expected to leave taxpayers with a police and security bill of up to £10 million.
Theresa May will host Mr Trump, and his wife Melania, at a lavish dinner at Blenheim Palace on Thursday evening, just days after the US president said the UK was in “turmoil” following the Cabinet resignations triggered by the Prime Minister’s Brexit plans.
What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2018
After spending the night at the US ambassador’s official residence in Regent’s Park, London, Mr Trump will join the PM at a military base on Friday to observe a joint counter-terrorism exercise involving UK and US special forces.
The two leaders will hold talks at the Prime Minister’s country residence of Chequers where Russia, Brexit and the Middle East will top the agenda.
Mr Trump will then travel to Windsor Castle to meet the Queen before heading to Scotland for a private part of the four-day visit, ahead of travelling to Helsinki for a summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Opponents have threatened mass protests against the visit, but Mr Trump is expected to avoid areas such as central London where demonstrators could gather.
Mrs May will be seeking to improve her often publicly strained relationship with he US president as she pushes for a post-Brexit trade deal with America.
Mr Trump raised eyebrows when he went out of his way to praise Boris Johnson after resigning as foreign secretary, while insisting it was up to the British people whether Mrs May remained in office or not.
The US president also suggested his summit with the Russian president could prove to be the easiest part of his European tour compared with the Nato meeting and UK visit.
And tension could be sparked as Mrs May expects the US president to remember the “malign behaviour” of Russia when he meets Mr Putin.
Downing Street made it clear that Mrs May wants the US leader to raise issues such as the Salisbury nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia at the meeting.
Ahead of Mr Trump’s visit, the PM said: “Our trade and investment relationship is unrivalled, we are the largest investors in each other’s economies and every day a million British people go to work for US companies in the UK and a million Americans go to work for UK companies in the US.
“This week we have an opportunity to deepen this unique trading relationship and begin discussions about how we will forge a strengthened, ambitious and future-proof trade partnership.
“As two nations, we are safer, more prosperous and more creative when we work together and I am looking forward to this week’s important discussions.”
As part of the visit, Mrs Trump will meet veterans and schoolchildren in London on Friday, accompanied by the PM’s husband Philip May.
Mr Trump is believed to be spending the weekend playing golf at his Turnberry resort in South Ayrshire, which he bought in 2014, although there has been no official confirmation of his plans.
The US president used the Nato summit to launch fierce attack on Germany, saying it was “totally controlled” by Russia, as he ratcheted up demands for Nato allies to pay more for their collective defence.
The menu for the dinner at Blenheim Palace includes Scottish salmon, English Hereford beef filet and vegetables, and strawberries and clotted cream ice cream.
While a working lunch at Chequers will consist of Dover sole, Chiltern lamb and vegetables, and lemon meringue pie.
- Press Association