A London pub owner is changing his establishment's name to The Trump Arms to celebrate the president's visit to Britain—and he says he’s expecting Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon to join him for opening night.
Trump arrives in the U.K. next week and, away from the tens of thousands expected to protest his arrival, there will be a small pocket of Trump supporters gobbling down cheeseburgers and hot dogs at a three-day event to celebrate the special bond between Britain and America.
The Daily Beast went down to the pub, normally known as The Jameson, to have a pint with the eccentric pro-Brexit Irish landlord Damien Smyth who said he wanted to do something to ensure Trump doesn't return to the U.S. thinking every single person in Britain hates him.
“We’re having a gathering of good supporters of Trump and the American people who value the relationship between both countries,” said Smyth, sitting in a big comfy armchair flanked by one enormous British flag and an equally massive American flag, as if he was the leader of both countries.
“The man [Trump] isn’t absolutely perfect but are there any of us who are perfect? Let the first fella stand up who is perfect and we’ll have a look at him. Was Bill Clinton perfect? You know, every man has his own faults. This man is not 100 percent perfect, but he’s doing a lot of progressive things, doing a lot of good things for the world.”
The Jameson—which is quiet on a Thursday afternoon but the kind of place you can imagine would rupture your eardrums during an England World Cup match—is already decked out with U.S. bunting. There are high-profile names of the guest-list for the celebrations, according to Smyth, including Brexit leader Nigel Farage, who apparently regularly frequents the pub, and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
The Daily Beast asked both men to confirm their attendance at the event, but neither have yet done so.
The fact that one tiny enclave of London will celebrate the visit of a sitting U.S. president shouldn’t be extraordinary, but the anticipation for Trump's visit is almost entirely negative. As we were sitting in the pub, news broke that London mayor Sadiq Khan had approved a request to fly a huge balloon shaped like Trump in a nappy over the city during the visit.
Moreover, huge protests of tens of thousands are planned during the visit in London and Scotland. Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters played a gig in Glasgow last week and unveiled a huge sign saying “Trump is a bawbag”—bawbag being a famous Scots word for the human scrotum.
But Smyth—whose only negative words about Trump were that his policy of separating migrant families was “probably badly handled”—thinks it’s important to show support and he vowed not to be put off by any negative reactions to his three-day festival of Trump and America.
“I was talking to the locals here about Trump coming and we were saying how it was great that he’s coming to the country and there’s such good relations between our countries,” said the Irishman. “We wanted to make the man welcome and to welcome the American people because... the Americans are our best friends in the world. Germany is not our friend and France is not out friend.”
We deciphered from that comment that Smyth is no fan of the EU, and indeed he goes on to say he voted for Brexit in 2016. He said he wished Trump was in charge of Brexit negotiations—echoing a sentiment from British foreign secretary Boris Johnson—and proposed a somewhat radical solution to Britain leaving the EU while still retaining the sanctuary of being in a larger group of nations.
“The natural proper union that should be is the British, the Irish, the Americans, and the Canadians,” he said, as this reporter sipped on a pint of premium French lager provided by the landlord. “These four guys could sit around the table and make a deal in half an hour or an hour. Whereas this carry-on of the 27 European and Germans and French and Spanish and the whole works—it would take them 20 years to make a deal.”
The Irishman went on: “These are four sensible countries who speak the same language and can make a deal and have the same population in the other 27 countries, you know.”
Smyth, whose wife is from New York, is effervescent in his praise for Trump and even said he hopes his daughter Ivanka—“she’s driven, can make things happen, she’s a good looking woman”—goes on to succeed him.
“What [Trump] has done, in my book—and I’m not to be taken as the authority on if he’s good or not—but he has done 90 percent or 95 percent proper stuff that needed to be done," said the pub landlord. “This man didn’t have to do this job. He didn’t need this job. He didn’t need the pressure and his family didn’t need it. This man has sacrificed his life and his time and his family’s security to do this for America and for the world.”
If people do object to his Trump celebration, said the landlord, he will be disappointed in them. “We respect free speech,” he said. “Let them protest, that’s fine, let them at it. What I don’t want is the president going home and thinking that the people of Britain are completely against him.”
The celebration at The Trump Arms will kick off next Thursday and will run to Saturday. Smyth and his staff will proudly serve American food and drink and play classic U.S. music. He said he wasn't seeking controversy and is just looking forward to a weekend of “good fun with nice people.”
“And then we’ll have England in the World Cup Final on Sunday, hopefully.”