A giant balloon depicting US President Donald Trump as an orange baby floats above anti-Trump demonstrators in Parliament Square in London
London (AFP) - Thousands took to the streets of central London on Tuesday to protest against the visit of Donald Trump, with the infamous blimp of the US president flying outside the Houses of Parliament once more.
The US president dismissed the protests as "very small" and "fake news" as the giant balloon of Trump wearing a nappy loomed over the crowds gathered in the capital for a "Carnival of Resistance".
A number of political figures addressed the banner-waving demonstrators, including the main opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who warned about the rise of the "far-right", saying it had "no answers for the people that are desperate in all parts of the world".
Trump earlier said he had turned down the veteran socialist's request to meet him.
Pregnant protester Lauren Donaldson, 31, who was wearing a t-shirt saying "bumps against Trump" over her baby bump, said she was on the streets because the president's "policies are awful... but he, himself, he's horrible".
"Giving a state visit, it just looks like we are agreeing and welcoming him, and we want to say, 'you are not welcome, go home'."
Thousands of protesters gathered initially in Trafalgar Square, where some demonstrators' banners read "Hey Mr Tangerine Man, sod off back to America," and "We don't like you".
One supporter of the president wandered through the crowd wearing a "Make America Great Again" baseball cap, attracting puzzled glances.
Later the protesters made the short walk through the rain past hundreds of police lining the route to Parliament Square.
Some protesters held smaller versions of the 20-foot high Trump blimp, which had floated above the demonstrators in Parliament Square during the morning.
The balloon was the focal point of last year's rallies against the president's working visit to Britain, and was back by "popular demand", according to organiser Leo Murray, a full-time climate activist.
"When the state visit was announced we were suddenly inundated with messages saying 'you've got to fly the baby again'," Murray said.
"We know that it's upset him and it's got under his skin," he added, saying it had become "a mascot... against Trump's hateful and divisive politics."
The Museum of London is in talks to acquire the inflatable as part of its protest collection.
- 'Dump Trump' -
Police had to separate the protesters from pro-Trump supporters who had gathered near Downing Street, where the president met British Prime Minister Theresa May, while other minor scuffles broke out between the two factions.
The demonstrators booed and shouted expletives as Trump's motorcade swept past on its way to Downing Street.
Protesters' banners at Trafalgar Square displayed similar sentiments.
A giant effigy of Trump sitting on a toilet while firing off tweets was set up next to the square's famous lion statues, as hundreds waved placards reading "Dump Trump".
Other demonstrators were split into different sections, with some highlighting Trump's climate policies and others waving Palestinian flags and communists flying hammer and sickle banners.
Norwegian student Helen Thuen, 25, said of Trump's reaction to the protests: "It's hard to tell with that guy, he might take it as flattery even.
"But I don't care, it's not about sending a message to him, it's about sending a message to everyone who is affected by his policies."
Frances Vernon, 59, said it was Trump's personality that brought her onto the streets with a sign reading "Trump is a moron".
"I don't see any kindness in him at all... he just gives me the creeps, I see nothing redeeming about him," she said.
The president's three-day visit is centred around Wednesday's D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations on the south coast of England, after which he will visit Ireland and Normandy, northern France.