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article imageAmid protests, London pub rolls out red carpet for Trump visit

By Jos√©phine GRUWE-COURT (AFP)     Jul 12, 2018 in World

As Britain braces for mass protests over the visit of Donald Trump, a west London pub has become an island of support for the divisive American president -- even temporarily renaming itself The Trump Arms.

Alongside the name-change in his honour the Jameson pub, in Hammersmith, has been decked out in the United States' stars and stripes flag and is throwing a "welcome party" for the commander-in-chief.

Inside, a life-size replica of the president stands alongside plenty of red "Make America Great Again" hats.

The watering hole is expecting up to 300 people who will have paid £32 (euros, $) to attend Saturday's Trump-themed bash, when it will serve up American favourites such as burgers and hot dogs.

Damien Smyth, the landlord, told British media he felt compelled to take such a pro-Trump stance because he "doesn't deserve this disrespect being shown to him".

The Irish-born publican has reportedly taken particular dislike to controversial plans to fly a giant baby-shaped balloon bearing Trump's features above Britain's parliament on Friday morning.

Some 77 percent of Britons have an unfavourable view of Trump, according to a poll by YouGov with 1,648 respondents.

Matthew Taylor, 53, had travelled from the county of Kent outside London to soak up the pre-party atmosphere Thursday, donning a red Trump hat.

He shared the pub manager's sentiment that the US president should be receiving a warmer welcome -- and not a "Trump Baby" balloon in the skies over London.

"I respect the right to (free) expression," he said, but added: "It is childish and disrespectful".

Taylor added the pub had raised enough money to make a similar balloon depicting London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who angered Trump loyalists by permitting protesters to fly their blimp above the British parliament.

Other long-time regulars at the bar told AFP there was a silent majority in Britain who actually backed the presidential visit.

"I'm very happy he is coming," said one drinker. "There are more people supporting Trump than people not supporting him."

"Let's not forget that we voted for Brexit about immigration and Trump's main issue is also immigration," added the attendee, who asked to remain anonymous.

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