David Mundell to welcome Donald Trump to Scotland amid calls for Air Force One to be banned from Prestwick Airport

Simon Johnson
Donald Trump stepping off Air Force One - AFP

David Mundell has said he is looking forward to welcoming Donald Trump to Scotland on Friday as SNP ministers faced demands to ban the US President from using an airport they bought.

The Scottish Secretary will greet the US President at Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire after he flies in on Air Force One for what is expected to be a three-day visit to the country.

Despite the trip being embroiled in controversy, Mr Mundell said it was "an opportunity to strengthen vital links" with a key ally and he hoped Mr Trump enjoyed his stay. It is understood the President has not expressed an interest in meeting Nicola Sturgeon

But Richard Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader, and Patrick Harvie, his Green counterpart, issued a joint statement arguing that Mr Trump "should be denied any kind of welcome."

The two hard-Left wingers argued that the Scottish Government, which owns Prestwick Airport, should ban the President from using it.

Mr Trump is believed to be spending the weekend playing golf at his Turnberry resort nearby, although there has been no official confirmation of his plans.

Around a dozen activists from Stand Up to Racism Scotland (SURS) staged a brief protest against Mr Trump at the course on Wednesday.

Further gatherings and rallies are planned across the UK from Thursday, when Mr Trump is expected to touch down in Britain. He will fly to Scotland on Friday evening after meeting the Queen at Windsor Castle.

But Mr Mundell said: "“I am looking forward to greeting Mr Trump on behalf of the UK Government when he arrives in Scotland on Friday. The UK and the USA have longstanding and important cultural, trade and security bonds.  

"The President’s visit is an opportunity to strengthen vital links with one of our most important global allies. The President's Scots heritage ‎is well known, and I hope he enjoys his visit to Scotland.”

David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary Credit: Julian Simmonds

Mr Leonard and Mr Harvie said: "For Donald Trump to travel to Scotland with public assistance and ease when his travel ban has caused outrage and despair around the world would simply not be acceptable.

"The Scottish Government owns Prestwick Airport. We believe that this publicly-owned facility should not be used for Donald Trump’s visit." 

They concluded: "We urge that the Scottish Government rules out any use of Prestwick by the President or his entourage, and so send the most powerful message possible that Donald Trump is not welcome in Scotland."

But a Scottish Government spokesman said: "Prestwick Airport is operated on a commercial basis and at arm’s length from the Scottish Government, in compliance with EU state aid rules. Ministers do not intervene in any specific commercial matters at the airport.

“Scotland has deep and longstanding ties of family, friendship and business with the United States, which will continue to endure."

Activists from Stand Up to Racism Scotland (SUTR) stage a protest at the Trump Turnberry resort in South Ayrshire, ahead of the US president's arrival in the UK Credit: PA

The protesters from SURS staged a demonstration at the foot of the Turnberry drive, brandishing banners with the slogans "Trump not welcome" and "No to racism, no to Trump".

They shouted "lock up Trump, let the children go", and mocked up a caged Mr Trump to draw attention to his administration's policy of separating children from their parents at the US/Mexico border.

Charlotte Ahmed, 57, a teacher and SUTR Glasgow spokeswoman, said she hopes tens of thousands of people will turn out for protests organised up and down the country this weekend.

She said: "This is a really frightening thing that such a person should be coming to Scotland, this beautiful country."

A rally will also be held outside the president's Balmedie course in Aberdeenshire on Saturday, and it is expected there could be further demonstrations at Turnberry.

A national demonstration is planned at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Saturday, as well as a "Carnival of Resistance" in the Meadows area of the capital.

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