US President Donald Trump has arrived Britain for his state visit, following up his weekend interventions over Brexit with a broadside against London’s “loser” mayor.
The president’s plane had not even touched down when he tweeted that Sadiq Khan, who has been highly critical of the red-carpet welcome laid on for Trump, had done a “terrible job”.
The president called the mayor a “stone cold loser” before adding: “In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit.”
Queen Elizabeth II will welcome Trump and his wife Melania to Buckingham Palace later Monday, where they will be treated to a guard of honour, a private lunch and a glittering state banquet.
But beneath the pomp and ceremony, Britain is in turmoil with Prime Minister Theresa May, who is due to step down within weeks over her handling of her country’s exit from the European Union.
Trump declared before he arrived that former foreign minister Boris Johnson would make an “excellent” choice to succeed May.
In a round of British newspaper interviews, he also recommended her successor walk away from talks with Brussels, refuse to pay Britain’s agreed divorce bill and leave the EU with no deal.
The much vaunted UK-US “special relationship” was already under strain over different approaches to Iran, China and climate change, as well as Trump’s personal politics.
Labour’s Khan has led opposition to the three-day visit, condemning Trump’s “divisive behaviour” and saying he was “one of the most egregious examples” of a growing global threat from the far-right.
Large protests are planned in London, while opposition politicians are also boycotting the state banquet on Monday night.
But May and Trump are expected to emphasise the wider benefits of the old alliance when they hold talks at Downing Street on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, they will join other world leaders in the English port of Portsmouth to commemorate 75 years since the D-Day landings, which changed the course of World War II.