(Bloomberg) -- It’s not the kind of greeting Scotland’s tourist brochures advertise, let alone for world leaders.
As Donald Trump made his way to one of the two golf resorts he owns in the country, protesters in Glasgow gathered to demonstrate against the U.S. president’s visit and more were getting ready to assemble in Edinburgh, the capital, on Saturday. Neither Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon nor any of her government will be meeting him. The semi-autonomous administration even asked the U.K. to reimburse the cost of policing the visit.
Trump’s stopover is a private visit sandwiched between this week’s NATO summit in Brussels and talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May and then a powwow with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday. The reception -- or lack of it -- shows how Scotland has soured on Trump, even after he’s poured millions of dollars into the country where his mother was born, and as May tries to build bridges despite the president’s criticism of her policies.
Trump’s meetings with May on Friday were overshadowed by scathing comments about her Brexit plan in an interview with the Sun newspaper. May sought to limit the political fallout after Trump attacked a blueprint for leaving the European Union she had just delivered to Parliament. He said it looked like hopes of a trade deal with the U.S. were over.
He apologized to her at a news conference, assured her that a trade accord was still on track, and said she’s “doing a terrific job.”
The political mood is more hostile toward Trump in Scotland, which is run by a party pushing for independence from the U.K. Originally the relationship blossomed when Trump was a property investor building a golf resort and the nationalists were seeking to make rich friends. But it turned into a public falling out, first over the country’s pursuit of green energy and then over Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric while running for president.
Scotland’s offshore wind farms threatened to spoil views from his Turnberry golf course, Trump said, so he took legal action. He also had problems purchasing the land from locals and with environmental activists, the subject of a 2011 documentary called “You’ve Been Trumped.”
In 2015, Sturgeon stripped Trump of his status as a business ambassador following remarks about Muslims. Six months later, he flew into Scotland to visit the Turnberry resort, landing the day after Britain voted to leave the EU. He declared Brexit a “great thing,” just as Sturgeon was preparing to call the election democratically unacceptable after a majority of Scots voted to stay in the EU.
“Scotland has deep and longstanding ties of family, friendship and business with the U.S., which will continue to endure,” the Scottish government said in a statement. “At the same time, we will not compromise our fundamental values of equality, diversity and human rights and we expect these values to be made clear during the presidential visit to the U.K.”
A demonstration organized by a group called Scotland United Against Trump will start at noon Saturday in Edinburgh, with people bused in from various cities. Protesters will march through the capital from the Scottish Parliament before what organizers are calling a “Carnival of Resistance against Trump,” with games including “Toss the welly at Trump.”
A 20-foot-high helium-filled balloon depicting Trump as a baby in a diaper, a highlight of protests in London, was scheduled to travel north overnight by train and make an appearance in Edinburgh. “We were inundated with messages from friends and allies in Scotland asking us to bring Trump Baby up,” said Leo Murray, an anti-Trump activist.
In addition to Turnberry in Ayrshire, western Scotland, which has hosted four Open Championships, Trump owns another golf course near Aberdeen. They haven’t been the most lucrative of his investments: losses at Trump Turnberry more than doubled to 17.6 million pounds ($23 million) in 2016 and widened to 1.4 million pounds at the Menie course in Aberdeenshire, according to filings.
Trump said at a press conference on Thursday that he would spend the weekend at Turnberry. He insisted that despite widespread protests against his presence, people in the U.K like him because of his support for immigration restrictions, a key issue behind Brexit.
“There might be protests, but I believe that the people in the U.K. -- Scotland, Ireland -- that those people, they like me a lot,” he said. “And they agree with me on immigration.”
Trump was to touch down at Prestwick Airport, about 20 miles north of his Turnberry resort, on Friday evening.
The airport has history when it comes to hosting famous Americans. It’s the only place in the U.K. where Elvis Presley is known to have set foot in 1960 when his military plane stopped to refuel. There’s a bar named after the singer available for people departing from the airport, though Trump doesn’t drink.
Surveillance and satellite vehicles on Friday were parked on standby at the airport, while security agents were on call in case protests get heated, the Daily Record newspaper reported.
The U.K. government agreed to set aside as much as 5 million pounds to cover costs incurred by Police Scotland after a request by Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf. He complained that there “should never have been the assumption that the Scottish government would pick up the tab.”
--With assistance from Justin Sink, Stephanie Baker and Thomas Penny.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rodney Jefferson in Edinburgh at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at email@example.com, Steve Geimann, Alex Wayne
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