London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he “supports” the decision to allow a giant Donald Trump blimp to fly over the capital during the US president’s visit on Friday.
The Trump Baby - a 20ft orange blimp depicting Trump as an enraged infant clasping a mobile phone - is set to hover over Parliament Square Garden in Westminster, just next to the Houses of Parliament.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Khan explained that while he did not sanction the decision - that was made by the Greater London Authority - he did endorse it.
“It’s not a state visit. It’s a working visit. There are two issues. One is the freedom to protest and the right to free speech and the second is our views on President Trump, let’s park that for a moment,” he said.
“Are you honestly saying the right to protest.. is limited by the ridicule it may cause someone? We can’t curtail our right to protest.”
Asked if he would have endorsed a 20ft blimp of himself as a pig or Barak Obama in a nappy, he added: “Let me answer that directly. If it’s peaceful and safe, yes. It’s not for me to be censor. It’s not for me to decide what’s in good taste or bad taste.”
Talking about the protests surrounding Trump’s UK visit he said: “If it’s peaceful and safe [they should be able to protest]. With your best friends… expectations are different. That’s why you have to be candid with your closest ally.”
Trump is due to spend Thursday night at the US Ambassador’s residence in London, but is scheduled to leave the city before demonstrations begin on Friday.
Around 50,000 people are expected to march through central London to protest the US president’s visit, assembling outside the BBC building in Portland Place at 2pm before marching through Oxford Circus and down Regent Street, ending in Trafalgar Square.
A rally is then set to take place from 5pm to 7pm. Further protests are planned in Scotland.
Trump’s tour will include a military parade at Winston Churchill’s birthplace of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, talks with May at her Chequers country home, and tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle.
He will then travel to Scotland, where he and First Lady Melania Trump will spend the weekend.
Labour MP Tom Watson also defended the blimp decision on GMB, saying people are “allowed to express dissent”.
“There’s freedom of expression in this country. People are allowed to protest...that’s only a good thing. We have to defend people’s right to protest.
“It’s satire. It’s protest. Some of these things are in bad taste. It’s freedom of expression…I support the right of our people to express themselves even if I disagree with their views.
“If it breaks the law I might not agree with it. I believe in applying the laws.”