London Mayor Sadiq Khan isn’t a huge fan of President Trump. The two leaders have sparred publicly since Trump’s campaign, mostly notably over the infamous “travel ban” (Khan is Muslim), and in the days following the deadly London Bridge terror attack last year. “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!,'” tweeted Trump, who previously had challenged Khan to an “IQ test.” A spokesperson for Khan responded at the time by saying the mayor has better things to do than respond to Trump’s “ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks.” A day later Trump called Khan “pathetic.”
On Thursday morning, Khan delivered one of his more subtle jabs to the president when he green-lit a group’s plan to fly an enormous blimp depicting a shirtless, screaming baby Trump over Parliament when the president visits London on July 13th. “The mayor supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms,” a spokesperson for Khan said Thursday. “His city operations team have met with the organizers and have given them permission to use Parliament Square Garden as a grounding point for the blimp.”
HUGE news coming in: DONALD J TRUMP BABY WILL FLY! @SadiqKhan tried to play hard ball – in the end he had to make a Deal. No surprise – he's never won anything in his life! Sad – but True! London here I come! https://t.co/j3KCPimHI2 pic.twitter.com/oc2VKWKSN1
— Trump Baby (@TrumpBabyUK) July 5, 2018
The blimp, which is 20 feet tall and will fly nearly 100 feet in the air, was conceived by a group led by London artist Leo Murray as a way to impart to the visiting “sex pest” that he is not welcome in the United Kingdom. “To really get through to Trump, you have to get down on his level and talk to him in a language he understands: personal insults,” Murray wrote for Metro on Thursday.
Despite his feud with Trump, Khan nixed the idea when it was first proposed on the grounds that the blimp did not represent a legitimate form of protest, which his office defined as “a gathering of people, with banners and placards.” The excuse didn’t fly with Murray, who created an online petition aimed at convincing Khan to “Let Trump Baby Fly.” It’s amassed over 10,000 signatures. He created a site to crowdfund the project, as well, which to date has raised nearly 20,000 pounds. “People have have been SO generous and supportive that we now have WAY more money than we can sensibly spend just on Trump’s UK visit in July!,” Murray wrote on the site. “So – Trump Baby is going on [a] World Tour!”
Supporting Trump Baby isn’t the only way UK citizens have opposed the president’s upcoming visit. As the blimp flies over Parliament, a “Stop Trump” march that is expected to draw close to 100,000 people will make its way through central London. Earlier in the day, Women’s March London will host a BringTheNoise rally, which it bills as “a day of joy, love, solidarity and resistance as we stand together in celebration of the diverse communities which make up our great city.”
The protests follow a petition filed earlier this year to deny Trump the privilege of making an official state visit to the United Kingdom. The petition garnered nearly 2 million signatures, but was ultimately rebuffed by the government. “HM Government believes the President of the United States should be extended the full courtesy of a State Visit,” the government responded. “We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangement are finalized.”
Though British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “deeply disappointed” by the “unjustified” steel and aluminum tariffs the Trump administration imposed last month, the UK is trying to build a healthy relationship with Trump as it readies itself to leave the European Union, which Trump has criticized fiercely in recent weeks. Tariffs will be on the agenda when Trump and May meet next Friday.
But while the British government is worrying about “courtesy,” Murray feels the only way to get through to Trump is to match him insult for insult. “I’ve heard plenty of establishment opining that protocol demands Britain keeps things civil with Trump; ‘respect the office, if not the man,’ the argument goes,” he wrote in Metro. “But being rude to Trump is respecting the office of US president, which he brings deeper into disrepute with each passing day. In case nobody has noticed, normal diplomatic protocol has been suspended.”