London Mayor Sadiq Khan On Trump Visit
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
The front page of the British tabloid newspaper The Sun claimed a world-exclusive interview this morning. The interviewee - President Donald Trump, who is in the U.K. right now. And Trump was not mincing his words in this interview. He said that Britain's prime minister, Theresa May, had wrecked the U.K.'s exit from the European Union. He also praised one of the prime minister's political rivals. And he slammed the mayor of London, who he has had a long-running war of words with.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You have a mayor who's done a terrible job in London. He's done a terrible job. And take a look at the terrorism that's taken place. Look at what's going on in London. I think he's done a terrible job. But I think that all of this immigration has really changed the fabric of Europe.
GREENE: NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, who hosts All Things Considered, is covering the president's visit to London and just sat down with the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Mary Louise, good morning.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, BYLINE: Good morning from London, David.
GREENE: Well, so where exactly are you?
KELLY: Well, so I did just interview Mayor Khan here at city hall at his office. We are - I'm speaking to you now from up by the roof of city hall, looking down over the Thames River, boats crawling up and down. The Tower of London is in the background. It is quite a day in London, glorious weather too, which will be working in favor of the protesters which are expected later today.
GREENE: And they sound like they're going to be pretty sizable protests greeting President Trump on this trip.
KELLY: They are expecting thousands and thousands of protesters starting at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon here. They're going to walk down one of the main streets of London and end up at Trafalgar Square, which is about as close to London gets to having a central square. And there, you know, you never know, but there is tremendous buzz about it. And a lot of groups, a lot of people organizing to get people out to protest everything they do not like about President Trump. So that's all coming up this afternoon here.
GREENE: Well, I want to get to exactly what the mayor told you. But just first, can you step back and tell me how people in general are reacting to the president of the United States arriving for, you know, a pretty formal visit, meeting with the prime minister, meeting and having tea with the Queen of England and then doing this interview where he really didn't mince his words at all?
KELLY: He certainly did not. It is what everyone here is talking about. I woke up, turned on the BBC Breakfast News. And the anchor of that program opened the show, of course, with this interview and said, it's hard to know where to start, isn't it? And then he said, how could it be any worse from the point of view of Prime Minister May, who is hosting Donald Trump, who had a - what appeared to be a lovely dinner from the outside? We don't know quite what she knew last night as this interview was about to break, if she knew it was coming or what exactly had been said.
And now aides on both sides, the British delegation, American delegation here trying to figure out how the heck do we go forward with the day's meetings on this working lunch that's been planned when President Trump has thrown, you know, a wrecking ball, a firebomb - pick your metaphor - into what they were supposed to be negotiating over?
GREENE: OK. In addition to that wrecking ball or whatever you're going to call it in terms of the meetings with the prime minister, President Trump also harsh attacks on the mayor of London. So tell us about what those attacks were and then, of course, what he had to tell you in this interview.
KELLY: Well, as you heard, President Trump there saying he - President Trump says Mayor Khan has done a terrible job as mayor, he's done a terrible job keeping the city safe. There have, of course, been a number of recent attacks in London in the last year or so. So I asked Mayor Khan about this, and more broadly, just about this whole Sun interview ripping Theresa May and others. And here is what Mayor Khan told me.
SADIQ KHAN: Well, he's entitled to have his views. I'm not going to rise to the individual things President Trump says. I'm hoping during the course of his visit, he sees a city and a country very comfortable in ourselves, very comfortable in our diversity, see it as something we should celebrate, not be scared of.
KELLY: So you hear - it's Mayor Khan basically adopting the Michelle Obama mantra. When they go low, we go high. He's refusing to slam back quite in as unmincing (ph) words as President Trump came out with, but clearly taking exception to just about everything President Trump said in this interview.
GREENE: Reminds me a little bit of Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, too, after he met with President Trump recently. And Trump left those meetings in Canada saying, you know, France, we are a proud country. We're comfortable in ourselves. We don't need to engage in this kind of stuff. Let me just ask you, Mary Louise. There's been all these stories about this blimp, a blimp like a balloon of a baby Donald Trump the protesters have up. Didn't they need to get permission from the mayor to have this? Did the mayor talk about that?
KELLY: They did. The blimp is up. The mayor did sign off on it, which is controversial. And I asked the mayor about that, you know, defend why this is a good idea. Here's what he told me on the blimp.
KHAN: Can you imagine what your listeners would think if their politicians curtailing free speech, curtailing the right to protest simply because somebody is offended, what's next? One of the things that we should be really proud of, both Americans and Brits, is the rights we have to protest and to express our views. And the key thing is it should be done in a peaceful manner. It should be good-spirited.
GREENE: All right. Have you seen the blimp?
KELLY: So Mayor Khan there making the case. It is up, and we're on our way there next. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.