On Thursday, US President Donald Trump is coming to the UK for the first working visit, hot on the heels of resignations in the UK government and a fierce row with American allies in NATO.
A Lot on Trump's Plate
Accompanied by his wife Melania Trump, POTUS is set to attend a black tie dinner at Blenheim Palace hosted by Theresa May, where she will see nearly 150 industry leaders.
On Friday, Trump and May will watch a joint US-British counter-terrorism exercise carried out by special forces at a military base, followed by talks at Chequers. The two are going to touch upon a wide range of topics and discuss the trade agenda.
After negotiations with May, Donald and Melania Trump will meet with the Queen at Windsor Castle and watch a military parade.
Tory Brexit Spat
Trump's visit comes several days after a sensational reshuffle in the UK government. Two high-profile Brexiteers, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis, quit the cabinet in a sign of protest directed at the soft Brexit compromise deal Theresa May reached at Chequers last Friday. Another jab was delivered to the PM as two Tory vice-chairs resigned minutes before the start of her press conference with Angela Merkel, hinting at a massive division over Brexit in the party.
The resignations at the top prompted Donald Trump to talk of "turmoil" in the UK in the run-up to the trip. On the same day, May praised the US as the strongest of Britain's allies, adding that she was "looking forward to this week's important discussions."
Although Washington and London are well-known for their long-lasting special bond, their relations have seen some controversy recently.
In early 2017, Donald Trump, a vocal proponent of hardline immigration policy, indefinitely banned all Syrian refugees and banned nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. The Muslim ban could hardly be backed by the UK, which has a large Muslim community.
The United States and Britain haven't seen eye-to-eye on some other points, for instance, Trump's decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, two accords that London continues to observe.
While political opinions were apparently divided, a trade spat broke out between the allies when the White House announced it would slap steel and aluminum imports from the EU with new tariffs. The move sparked a backlash in the bloc, leading to a tit-for-tat exchange of tariffs between the transatlantic partners.
On the other hand, London has backed Washington's airstrikes on Syria and welcomed its decision to expel scores of Russian diplomats over alleged Russian involvement in a nerve agent attack on spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, UK.
Moreover, London and Washington apparently share similar views on military spending, one of Trump's favorite subjects as of late. "Billions of additional dollars are being spent by NATO countries since my visit last year, at my request, but it isn't nearly enough. The US spends too much," POTUS tweeted ahead of the UK visit. On Wednesday, Theresa May echoed Trump's demand for paying up, saying that London "leads by example."
Get Up, Stand Up
Ahead of Trump's visit, reports surfaced in the media that mass rallies would take place in London and Oxfordshire to show the protesters' disapproval of the Trump administration's policies.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has given a green light to organizers of the anti-Trump protest, who plan on launching a giant "baby Trump blimp" into the sky above London.
However, in response to reports that the US president is seeking to avoid the protests since his meetings would mostly take place outside the capital, the US ambassador to Britain stressed that "The President is not avoiding anything."