Donald Trump touched down on British soil this morning for a highly controversial delayed state visit, during which he will enjoy a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, have tea with Charles and Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, meet the prime minister – and face a whole lot of public animosity.
And he's not doing himself any favours. In true Trumpian fashion, one of the first things the US president did to mark the occasion – before he'd even left Air Force One and set foot on the runway at Stansted – was to attack London's much-loved Mayor Sadiq Khan on Twitter, deeming him "a stone cold loser" who has "done a terrible job", reigniting the long-running political feud between them.
....Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job - only half his height. In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2019
With tens of thousands of people due to attend mass protests planned against his visit in London and around the country on Tuesday, you'd have thought Trump might have made at least a veiled attempt to redeem himself in the eyes of the British public, but alas.
Khan spent the weekend railing against Trump's visit, writing in The Observer that it is "un-British to be rolling out the red carpet this week for a formal state visit for a president whose divisive behaviour flies in the face of the ideals America was founded upon – equality, liberty and religious freedom," and comparing the language used by Trump to rally his supporters to that of "the fascists of the 20th century".
From rolling back women's reproductive rights to defending white supremacists and far-right nationalists - President Trump's behaviour flies in the face of ideals America was founded upon.— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) June 2, 2019
As the US's closest friends we have a duty to speak out. #Ridgepic.twitter.com/pYDBvh1dU4
Responding to Trump's latest comments, a spokesperson for Khan said "childish insults should be beneath the president of the United States". "Sadiq is representing the progressive values of London and our country warning that Donald Trump is the most egregious example of growing far right threat around the globe," they added.
The row is just the latest in a long history of animosity between the US president and London mayor. Khan has long been critical of Trump's views about Islam – when Trump said Khan would be an "exception" to his proposed travel ban on Muslims in 2016, Khan said the US presidential candidate's views were "playing into the hands of extremists who say it’s not compatible to be Western and mainstream Muslim". Khan promptly announced he was backing Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.
The feud between the pair only intensified from then on, with Trump describing Khan as "ignorant" and "very rude", and urging him to take an IQ test in May 2016. A year later in June 2017, in the aftermath of the London Bridge terror attack in which eight people were killed, Trump blasted the mayor's response to the atrocity.
Khan was resolute in his comeback and called on the government to cancel Trump's state visit, which was originally due to take place in 2017. When he eventually visited the UK for the first time as president, on a non-state visit in July 2018, Khan's sanctioning of the giant Trump baby blimp was all the evidence we needed that he didn't support the visit. That same month, Trump said Khan had "done a very bad job on terrorism".
With the Trump baby blimp due for a second showing in London this week, the three-year feud between Khan and his nemesis shows no sign of dying down.