In Brief

How the Trump Baby came to life

Giant balloon will fly for two hours while US president is holding talks with Theresa May in Downing Street

Donald Trump’s second visit to the UK as US president will be marked with the return of the Trump Baby blimp.

Organisers from the Stop Trump coalition plan to fly the 20ft-long inflatable above Parliament Square for two hours on Tuesday while the US president attends talks with Theresa May in Downing Street.

The giant balloon, which depicts Trump wearing a nappy and holding a mobile phone, will be joined by “an expected 250,000 protesters, who are planning to descend on the capital for a mass demonstration against the president”, says The Times

The decision to fly the blimp once more was taken after a fundraising target of £30,000 was reached over the weekend. The team behind the Trump Baby said that the money would go to groups in the US and Britain “fighting Trump’s policies and their effect on communities”.

The organisations that will benefit include “British groups UK Student Climate Network, Jawaab and Sisters Uncut, as well as US organisations Sunrise Movement, United We Dream and Planned Parenthood”, reports Reuters.

Ajuub Faraji, a Trump blimp “babysitter”, told The Times: “We’re thrilled that the public have put their hands in their pockets to support groups fighting the effects of his policies. With Trump Baby flying, we’re sending a very clear message of solidarity to those affected and saying loud and clear that the US president doesn’t deserve the red carpet treatment.”

Trump has not commented on the planned blimp relaunch after arriving in London this morning for his three-day state visit. However, during his visit last year, when he largely stayed away from the English capital, he told The Sun: “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London.

“I used to love London as a city... I haven't been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?”

What happened last year?

The blimp was first flown over Parliament Square during the US president's working visit to the UK in July 2018.

Campaigners raised almost £18,000 to pay for the massive helium-filled inflatable, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan gave permission for it to fly.

Activist Leo Murray, who was behind the crowdfunded idea, explained at the time: “[Trump] really seems to hate it when people make fun of him, so when he visits the UK... we want to make sure he knows that all of Britain is looking down on him and laughing at him.

“That's why a group of us have chipped in and raised enough money to have a six-metre-high blimp made by a professional inflatables company, to be flown in the skies over Parliament Square during Trump's visit.”

Murray said organisers initially “didn't get off to the best start with the mayor's office over this, who originally told us that they didn't recognise Trump Baby as legitimate protest”.

But City Hall “rediscovered its sense of humour”, he continued, adding: “Trump Baby will fly!”

A statement on behalf of the mayor’s office said he that Khan “supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms”.

Not everyone agreed, though, and the backlash from Trump supporters was fierce.

Drew Liquerman, chair of the Republicans Overseas group, said the blimp was “cringeworthy”, while Digby Jones, a former director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), told CNBC that the decision to allow the blimp to fly was “disgusting”. 

What will happen to the blimp after this month's visit?

The Museum of London has requested permission to use the balloon as an exhibit. Bosses at the popular tourist destination told the BBC that the owners of the balloon were also keen for it to go on display. 

Museum director Sharon Ament said she would also like to display a similar balloon depicting Khan in a yellow bikini that was flown over the capital in September.

Both balloons are “really important and of their time”, shedding light on “how people protest in London”, she explained.

Ament added: “It's extraordinary how some objects can capture the public imagination - certainly, the balloon really did.”


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