Donald Trump UK visit: Ring of steel goes up outside US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park to shield president from protesters

A plea to British people to take Donald Trump’s outrageous utterances “with a grain of salt” was made today by the head of the US Republican party’s supporters in the UK.

Sarah Elliott said she herself had been embarrassed by some of President Trump’s comments, including sexist remarks about crotch-grabbing, but appealed to people not to take his words too seriously.

As new fences and counter-terrorist concrete bollards were installed at the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park ahead of his visit, Ms Elliott admitted: “There are a lot of things I wish he hadn’t said.” 

In an interview with the Standard, Ms Elliott, who chairs Republicans Overseas, said of his notorious “grab them by the p***y” comment about women: “I don’t like it. But I don’t apply the same criteria to the man I married to the man I vote for president.”

Three days before Mr Trump’s arrival, Ms Elliott said the visit would see the US and the UK working closely on “the issues that matter most to both countries, prosperity and security”.

Tight security at Winfield House, Regent’s Park

“We share history and values and we face the same challenges in the Our countries work very closely together no matter who is president or prime minister,” she added.

But with demonstrations against the president planned on Friday, Ms Elliott said she understood the controversy that he generated.

“Of course I get it, he’s a Marmite character, you love him or hate him,” she said.  “I look at what he is doing, not what he has been saying, and that’s what people need to do. They need to take it with a grain of salt and look at what he has accomplished in his first 18 months.”

Asked about the anger felt by many Britons over the Trump policy of separating children of illegal immigrants from their parents, she said: “A lot of Americans do as well. It’s not an ideal situation and it needs to change. 

“Frankly I put the blame at Congress’s feet, because it has not properly dealt with immigration for almost 40 years.

Donald Trump and Melania will be heading to the UK later this week (REUTERS)

“What the administration is doing is enforcing the law, which is having a very detrimental impact on these families. Either the law needs to be followed or it needs to be changed, and that’s for Congress to do.”

Asked about the US ban on visitors from some Islamic countries, Ms Elliott said it had been “a security issue, not Muslim-targeting”, as the states affected had substandard background checks, while Muslim states with high standards were not affected.

A London resident for five years, Ms Elliott made no attempt to defend Mr Trump’s claim that there are “no-go areas” where police dare not enter, admitting: “It has not been my experience.”

Mr Trump is expected to stay at the ambassador’s residence on Thursday night, but will stay out of London for much of his four-day visit. Ms Elliott  said this was for security reasons, not to avoid protesters, and accused Mayor Sadiq Khan of “appealing to his base” by opposing the visit. “His base are far-Left Labour and they hate Trump. I know why he is doing it but it is not the most hospitable thing.”

On Mr Trump’s talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin, she said he would not give concessions to the Kremlin hardman. “Mr Trump likes to face his foes face-to-face and I think he wants to intimidate Mr Putin,” she said. “It’s going to be a meeting of alpha males, not a friendly visit.”

Ms Elliott said she did not vote for Trump in 2016, but would do now. “He has governed as a small ‘c’ conservative. I like his tax cuts, which are fuelling the American economy, which is just booming, and I like what he has done on the international stage, in the Middle East, as regards Iran and North Korea. Whereas we were all predicting World War III, that’s not what’s happening.”

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