LONDON — President Donald Trump arrived in Britain on Monday for a largely ceremonial visit meant to strengthen ties between the two nations.
Even before Air Force One touched down north of London, President Trump went on Twitter to talk about London Mayor Sadiq Khan, leader of the world city where Mr. Trump will stay for two nights while partaking in a state visit full of pomp and circumstance.
The move came after a newspaper column in which Khan said President Trump did not deserve red-carpet treatment in Britain and was “one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat” from the far-right to liberal democracy.
″@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly “nasty” to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom,” President Trump wrote just before landing. “He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.
The president added that Kahn reminded of the “terrible” mayor of his hometown, New York City Mayor Bill de Blaiso though “only half his height.” De Blaiso, a Democrat, is a longshot candidate in the 2020 presidential race. Khan supporters have previously accused President Trump of being racist against London’s first Muslim mayor.
The president then added a few warm words for his hosts, tweeting that he was looking forward “to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit.”
The Trumps then boarded Marine One, the presidential helicopter, for the trip from Stansted Airport to the center of Britain’s capital.
The agenda for President Trump’s week long journey is mostly ceremonial: a state visit and an audience with Queen Elizabeth II in London, D-Day commemoration ceremonies on both sides of the English Channel and his first presidential visit to Ireland, which will include a stay at his coastal golf club.
But the U.S. president will arrive at a precarious moment. British Prime Minister Theresa May has faced months of political turmoil over Brexit and French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to use the 75th anniversary of the World War II battle that turned the tide on the Western Front to call for strengthening the multinational ties the U.S. president has frayed.
After lunch with Queen Elizabeth II, President Trump will be honored at extravagant state dinner at Buckingham Palace.
President Trump will also make his first presidential visit to Ireland on Wednesday. He will spend two nights at his golf club in Doonbeg, which sits above the Atlantic. After Dublin balked at holding a meeting there, a deal was struck for President Trump to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at Shannon Airport.
The centerpiece of the president’s visit will be two days to mark the 75th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, D-Day anniversary, likely the last significant commemoration most veterans of the battle will see. The anniversary events will begin in Portsmouth, England, where the invasion was launched, and then move to Normandy, France, where Allied forces began to recapture Western Europe from the Nazis.