London, United Kingdom – Protesters return to the streets of central London to demonstrate against Donald Trump while the president of the United States participates in a NATO meeting.
While NATO leaders gathered at Buckingham Palace to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the alliance at the Summit of Heads of State on Tuesday night, the crowds expressed their fury over the increase in defense spending, the development of nuclear weapons and what many see as Trump's destructive influence on UK politics.
Thousands of protesters marched from Trafalgar Square to the royal residence, where the Queen hosts a reception for NATO leaders. They went out to protest a lot of problems, including the inclusion of the National Health Service in trade talks between the United Kingdom and the United States, Trump's policy in the Middle East, an increase in NATO defense spending and what many see as a destructive "special relationship,quot; between the United Kingdom and the United States.
Protesters had signs that said "cut the war, not medical attention," "stop Trump's nuclear arms race," "stop arming Erdogan," and "Trump: special relationship? Just say no."
Bess, a bartender in the capital told Al Jazeera: "I am protesting that Trump is in the United Kingdom and all that it represents: fascism, racism and misogyny."
On Wednesday, leaders will meet at the Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire, about 20 miles (30 km) north of the capital.
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Trump is expected to meet one by one with a handful of his counterparts, including the French president. Emmanuel Macron, but he does not plan to meet privately with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will stand for elections on December 12.
Several politicians in the United Kingdom, including the opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Trump of interfering in the upcoming British elections after Trump called a radio show organized by the leader of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, on November 1, urging the far-right figure to forge an alliance with Johnson in the search for Brexit.
During a 52-minute press conference on Tuesday in London with NATO General Secretary Jens StoltenbergTrump said he was a "Brexit fan,quot;, but refused to comment on the elections in general, despite previously saying that Corbyn, a leftist, would be "so bad,quot; for Britain if he won.
On the growing accusations that the United States is interested in the NHS, Britain's national public health service, from a commercial perspective, said: "I don't even know where that rumor began. We have absolutely nothing to do with it and don't we would do it,quot;. I don't want if you handed it to us on a silver platter, we don't want anything to do with it. "
It is not a perspective appreciated by protesters.
"I don't trust Trump's agreements with Johnson, especially about the NHS," said theater worker Lucy. "We are deeply privileged to have one of the best health care services in the world. Trump, his trade agreements and his chlorinated chicken are not welcome here."
Many protesters waved the Kurdish flag, in support of the Kurds in northeastern Syria, who were subjected to a Turkish incursion following the US withdrawal from the region in October.
"Trump gave Turkey the signal to go," says Kani, a recent math graduate. "I am here to defend the Kurdish people and the Kurdish nation. I oppose (Turkish President Recep Erdogan). The United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, has not said a word since the invasion began."
Mohammed, a 17-year-old student, added: "Trump's policies in the Middle East have been disastrous: Iran, Syria, Yemen, Iraq. His main goal is to create riots for the benefit of the United States."
Kate Hudson, general secretary of the London-based Nuclear Disarmament Campaign (CND), also spoke against Trump pressing member states to devote more funds to defense, describing a "weakening of national sovereignty over public spending decisions. "
At the NATO summit last year, Trump threatened to move away from the alliance if members didn't pay more.
Before this year's meeting, he announced plans to reduce the US. expenditurefor NATO
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"It's a way to punish other states for failing to meet their two percent of the funds. The fact that Trump reduces the United States' commitment forces member states to disburse. Many member states do not pay two percent. because they can't afford to cut funds from their health and social services, "said Hudson.
Stoltenberg, meanwhile, Announced that defense spending for 2019 in European allies and Canada increased in real terms by 4.6 percent, which makes it the fifth consecutive year of growth.
Nine allies will meet the two percent guideline this year, compared to just three allies just a few years ago. The UK currently gives 2.1 percent of your GDP.
"NATO is a war machine and a powerful arm of the foreign power of the United States," said the 26-year-old Myer protester. "His interference in Libya is one of the biggest foreign policy catastrophes in recent years."
Linda, a retired teacher who also took to the streets on Tuesday night, agreed: "Our interference in the Middle East has caused wars. NATO is not the solution."
CND and Stop the War Coalition also protested against the further development of nuclear weapons.
Currently, NATO has about 180 B61 US nuclear bombs, stationed in five European countries: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey.
THowever, here there has been strong opposition from the host nations to these weapons. The governments of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have asked, unsuccessfully, for US nuclear weapons to be withdrawn from their countries.
In terms of popular attitudes, support for NATO membership has declined in several European countries in the past two years, according to YouGov.
In 2017, almost 73 percent of Britons approved membership. That has been reduced to 59 percent. Similarly, in Germany support has fallen to 54 percent. 68 percentand in France to 39 percent from 54 percent.
Lindsey German, founding member and coordinator of the London-based Stop the War Coalition, called for the end of Britain and the "special relationship,quot; of the United States.
"The United Kingdom has never acted independently of US foreign policy. We saw this in Iraq and still see the consequences of that war," he said, citing the recent attack on the London Bridge as an example.
"The United Kingdom is not interested in following the example of the United States. Trump's foreign policy goes from isolationism to belligerence."