Sadiq Khan has said he “welcomes” anyone planning to see a gigantic blimp version of himself fly over Parliament Square this weekend.
The 29ft balloon – which depicts the Mayor of London in a yellow bikini – was created following a £50,000 crowdfunding campaign, in response to his decision to allow a Donald Trump blimp to fly as part of a protest against the US president’s visit to the UK in July.
On Thursday morning, it was confirmed that permission for the Khan blimp to fly on Saturday had been granted.
Speaking to ITV London, the Mayor remarked: “If people want to spend their Saturday looking at me in a yellow bikini they’re welcome to do so – I don’t really think yellow’s my colour though.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London also told HuffPost UK: “The City Hall ‘city operations’ team has spoken with the organisers of this balloon and given permission for them to use Parliament Square Garden.
“As always, City Hall has been working in very close coordination with the Metropolitan Police and other key agencies to ensure this protest is able to be carried out in a safe and secure way.”
The statement comes following an application to fly the blimp from 9.30am to 11.30am.
Decisions on rallies and events of this kind are made by the Greater London Authority’s city operations team, not the mayor himself.
Funds for the blimp were raised in just six days after the plans received coverage from outlets including Fox News and Russia Today.
The stunt has been organised by Yanny Bruere, who describes himself as “pro free speech [and] anti political correctness” on his Facebook page.
Bruere’s initial plan was for the Khan blimp to be wearing a nappy – as the Trump one was – but this was later changed to a bikini, in reference to the mayor’s decision to ban body-shaming adverts from the London Underground.
A Facebook event for the blimp’s flight says: “This event marks the fight back for free speech in our country.”
The event has been created by the ‘Make London Safe Again’ page, which has just over 2,000 “likes”.
The page sells a variety of T-shirts, including one that features a cartoon of Khan in a bikini, and another of him driving an Uber with a blonde-haired woman in the backseat.
Bruere promoted his fundraising efforts extensively on social media and in a video uploaded last month, he said: “We’re going to see if Sadiq Khan, like he said on ‘Good Morning Britain’, values free speech and democracy just as he claims.”