US President Donald Trump arrives in 'hotspot' UK after querying Theresa May

Donald Trump and Theresa May at the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium
Donald Trump and Theresa May at the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium Photo credit: Reuters

US President Donald Trump has arrived in "hot spot" Britain after casting doubt on Prime Minister Theresa May's plans for leaving the EU and with protests planned across a country where he says people "like him a lot".

After a NATO summit where he provoked a crisis session to force allies to raise their defence spending, Trump landed in Britain for his first visit as president having described the closest US ally in Europe as being in turmoil over Brexit.

Ms May hopes Trump, who landed at Stansted airport before flying by helicopter to the US ambassador's London residence, will help to accelerate a future free trade deal, though his public comments on Brexit cast a shadow over the visit.

"I'm going to a pretty hot spot right now, right? With a lot of resignations," Mr Trump told a news conference at the NATO summit in Brussels.

Mr Trump's trip coincides with a tumultuous week for May after two senior ministers resigned in protest at her plans for trade with the EU after Britain leaves next March.

Ms May's "business-friendly" Brexit proposal was agreed by her cabinet only last Friday after two years of wrangling, though some leave supporters consider it a betrayal.

"The people voted to break it up, so I imagine that's what they'll do. But maybe they're taking a little bit of a different route, so I don't know if that's what they voted for," said Trump.

Asked about Mr Trump's comments at a hastily-arranged meeting with journalists, Ms May said she was delivering the wishes of the British people.

Mr Trump, who has repeatedly praised Brexit, has expressed enthusiasm for a wide-ranging trade deal with Britain after its EU departure in March next year.

Many Britons are opposed to Mr Trump's trip, which is not the full state visit he was originally promised. A YouGov poll on Wednesday showed 77 per cent had an unfavourable opinion of the president and just 50 per cent thought his visit should go ahead.

"I think they like me a lot in the UK," Mr Trump said in Brussels. "I think they agree with me on immigration. I'm very strong on immigration."

More than 60,000 people have signed up to demonstrate in London on Friday when protesters intend to fly a large balloon over parliament portraying Trump as an orange, snarling baby.

A campaign is also under way to get Green Day's 2004 hit American Idiot to the top of the UK Singles Chart.

On Thursday, Mr Trump will travel to Blenheim Palace, the 18th-century stately home where Winston Churchill was born and spent most of his childhood, for a black-tie dinner with May.

The two leaders will hold talks the following day at Chequers, the prime minister's official country residence.

Later, Mr Trump will go to Windsor Castle for tea with 92-year-old Queen Elizabeth.