The small band of Trump enthusiasts was unmistakable among the foreign tourists thronging the front of Buckingham Palace.
They wore MAGA hats and campaign T-shirts, but in one respect were unmistakably British.
The Washington Examiner Reports:
“We love you, Donald, we do,” they sang before President Trump’s arrival on Monday, adapting a favorite soccer chant for their own purposes. “Oh, Donald, we love you.”
Although the headlines may have been dominated by flying baby blimps and British politicians scoring points for domestic political purposes, Trump is more popular in the U.K. than most other major European countries.
With Theresa May stepping down after a string of parliamentary defeats and the chaos of Brexit, people such as Jennifer Holdcroft, 70, say they ache for a leader who leads.
“We in this country have not had a strong, proper leader for decades,” she said. “That’s what we are lacking.”
She and her husband traveled by train from Stoke-on-Trent for Trump’s visit. The city was once the heart of the U.K.’s pottery industry but was more recently nicknamed the “Brexit capital of Britain” after almost 70% of voters backed leaving the European Union in the 2016 referendum.
Many of the themes that persuaded Britons to split from the E.U., economic independence, immigration, jobs, will be familiar to Americans who backed Trump.
It all meant Holdcroft identified with the president’s tough stand on law and order, as well as his criticism of Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, who she said should have done more to tackle knife crime.
Last year was the bloodiest in London for a decade, with 135 recorded homicides.
“There’s a lot of numpties around here now, all the lefties and their silly ideas, which just makes it dangerous for the rest of us,” said Holdcroft, who is now retired but whose working life was spent in manual jobs such as packing biscuits.
A ripple went through the crowd as a convoy of vehicles, including the presidential limousine, pulled up to Buckingham Palace.
“Come on, give us a kiss, Donald,” she called as others launched into three cheers.
“Hip, hip hooray,” they shouted before segueing into a traditional chorus of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”
It was only later they realized the cars were not carrying Trump. He would arrive a few minutes later by Marine One.
Philip Butah, an artist, said he was there in protest at the British Left, which had characterized Trump as a racist or a white supremacist.
“This identity politics is all just about divide and conquer,” he said. “They are just trying to find someone to blame.”
Protesters are expected to come out in force on Tuesday. But opinion polls suggest most Britons take a more pragmatic stance. London, after all, needs allies around the world to help it find life after Brexit.
While many people have a negative view of Trump, more Britons were in favor of the visit than against — 46% to 40%, according a YouGov poll last month.
And asked last year by the Pew Research Center whether Trump would do the right thing in world affairs, about 28% of Britons said yes, compared with 10%, 9%, and 7% in Germany, Spain, and France respectively.
Augustine Chukwuma Obodo, whose business card describes him as the founder of “Friends of Trump UK,” said he had taken three days off work as a pharmacist to make his presence felt.
“Trump has a lot of supporters. We are the silent majority,” he said. “We are many. In this country Trump is a promise keeper, someone who does what he says.”
Obodo arrived in the U.K. about a decade ago from Nigeria. He said his experience as an immigrant equipped him to offer a “realist’s” perspective on questions of race and identity in his adoptive home.
“Multiculturalism is not working in the U.K.,” he said, echoing Holdcroft and her take on London and Trump. “It is a failed policy.”
Trump’s arrival may have provoked a backlash, but for one group of supporters, at least, he serves as an example of what leadership looks like.
“This visit is long overdue,” said Obodo.