Sadiq Khan gave permission for the balloon, which was inflated with helium early Friday and floated over the Houses of Parliament during the demonstrations.
"The idea that we would park our rights and privileges and freedoms because it may cause offense to a U.S. president, I think people in London and the U.K. would find objectionable as indeed would Americans,” the mayor said. “We should cherish the fact they’ve got the right to [protest].”
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‘The wonderful thing about our city is the diversity. I hope you’ll realise it’s a strength not to be afraid of, but to be cherished.’ @SadiqKhan responds to Donald Trump comments this morning. pic.twitter.com/R8HM0TexKU
“Of course we stand shoulder to shoulder in adversity, and it was really comforting when Americans sent messages of support when we had terrorist attack last year,” Khan said, “but when we think you’re wrong we should say you’re wrong — that’s what a special relationship is all about.”
Sadiq Khan on why he allowed the Trump baby blimp: "Can you imagine if we limited freedom of speech because somebody's feelings might be hurt?" #r4today
He also took aim again at Khan, saying: “I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I look at cities in Europe, and I can be specific if you’d like. You have a mayor who has done a terrible job in London. He has done a terrible job.”
Opposition lawmaker Emily Thornberry hit out at Trump’s comments, telling LBC radio: "It's Islamophobia and it is racist. I'm afraid it is absolutely in Donald Trump's playbook. It just shows what a terrible president he is."
Khan, who has no powers over immigration, also questioned the motives behind Trump’s repeated criticism.
“Manchester also suffered a terror attack. … Paris Nice, Brussels, Berlin, cities in America have all suffered terror attacks, so it’s for President Trump to explain why he singled me as the mayor of London out,” he said. “It is for him to explain why he thinks I’m responsible for immigration into Europe or the U.K. I have no power over these things.”
Michael Fabricant posted a cartoon Khan's head on an inflatable balloon, engaged in a sex act with a pig. Fabricant apologized, saying he "stupidly tweeted it in a meeting without checking it properly.”