A row has erupted after Sadiq Khan gave his permission for a giant balloon of Donald Trump to be flown over Westminster by protesters during the US President’s official visit to London.
The controversial decision has sparked outrage amongst pro Trump campaigners but has been widely applauded by those planning to protest the President’s visit.
The police and national air traffic service will have the final say on whether the unflattering portrayal of the President can take to the skies.
But Mr Khan has described the balloon as a symbol of “peaceful protest”.
However, David Smith, a spokesman for the I Am British Facebook page, a group which has been working to organise a pro-Trump rally, said the blimp crossed a line.
“I don’t think it will make President Trump feel very welcome,” he said.
“I think the relationship between the US and the UK is very important.
“He’s the democratic leader of the US coming to visit the UK on a diplomatic visit.
“I think everyone should be allowed to protest in their own way but there is a fine line.
“Putting up a huge blimp that ridicules him won’t make him feel very welcome and I think it crosses that line.”
Mr Smith said he feared the blimp could have a negative effect on business relations between the US and the UK.
“He is also coming for a business meeting. When he was first elected he said the UK would be first on the list to strike a trade deal with the US and I think that would be great.
“Anything that tarnishes that would not be beneficial,” he said.
Organisers of the Stop Trump protest which is due to take place on Saturday July 13 have commended the giant blimp.
Asad Rehman, a coalition member of Stop Trump and director of War on Want told the Standard: “We think it is a great idea.
“ We are organising a carnival of resistance after all.
“This adds to the creativity of people’s protests which is what we are all about.
“That is something which has really marked this protest, everyone has been so creative from Drag Queens dressing up to posters.
“The blimp will be a powerful statement especially because it is about someone who is so thin skinned themselves,” he said.
Mr Rehman said the Stop Trump campaign fully supported the huge balloon and revealed that a miniature blimp would be attending the march.
“People will be able to take their own blimp selfies,” he said.
The 6m high balloon shows Mr Trump as a giant baby in a nappy and with his trademark blonde hair. Campaigners want him to fly near Parliament on July 13. A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms.
“His city operations team have met with the organisers and have given them permission to use Parliament Square Garden as a grounding point for the blimp.
“However the organisers will also need to receive the necessary approvals from the Metropolitan Police and National Air Traffic Service in order for it to fly.”
The President is due to visit the UK over the weekend of July 13. It is understood he will go first to the US Ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park before having dinner at Blenheim Palace.
During his three-day trip, he will meet with Theresa May at Chequers before joining the Queen at Windsor Castle.
In response to his visit, a national Stop Trump protest has been organised and is expected to draw around 50,000 people to the capital.
Demonstrators will assemble outside the BBC building in Portland Place at 2pm on the Friday and march through Oxford Circus and down Regent Street before ending in Trafalgar Square for a rally.
Scotland Yard said it has specialist plans in place to ensure that the event will be secure and said in a statement: “We are preparing for a multi-faceted policing and security operation, involving the protection and movement of the president.
“The requirements of this complex operation need to be balanced with the right of individuals to a freedom of speech.”
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