"[If] they wanted to fly a 20-foot black baby of Obama topless in a nappy, would you have endorsed that?"

What: Host Piers Morgan challenged London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Good Morning Britain on his decision to allow a "Trump Baby Balloon" to fly over Parliament during President Donald Trump's visit to the UK.

Leo Murray, a 41-year-old British climate activist, ran a successful crowd-funding campaign to make a 20-foot balloon depicting Trump as an overgrown, be-diapered baby, and to let it fly during the presidential visit, which began on July 6.

The London Mayor issued a permit last Thursday allowing the protesters to fly the balloon during Trump's first official visit to the UK.

Why: Trump and Khan have traded insults in the past. 

The personal angle: Khan has spoken out against Trump's immigration and trade policies and Trump has returned the sentiment criticizing Khan for making a "pathetic" excuse after the London bridge terror attack in June 2017.

The free speech angle: Khan asserted that his decision had nothing to do with his surly relationship with the American president but has everything to do with freedom of expression. Khan sees the baby-Trump blimp as a legitimate form of protest, which, as long as it's "peaceful and safe," should be permitted.


Morgan questioned Khan on whether he would have sanctioned a similar protest of Obama: "If this president was Barack Obama and someone came to you with a crowd-funded plan because they didn’t agree with his drone strike policy, for example, perfectly legitimate to criticize Obama, and they wanted to fly a 20-foot black baby of Obama topless in a nappy, would you have endorsed that?"

Khan responded: "Let me answer directly, so the answer is, ‘is it peaceful and is it safe?’ It’s not for me to be the censor...if it’s peaceful and it’s safe, yes.”

Morgan pressed Khan, who is Muslim, on whether he'd allow a protestor to depict him as a pig (the most filthy animal according to Islam). Khan was steadfast: “If it’s peaceful and if it’s safe. Look, I can’t be the censor. It's not for me to decide what's in good taste or bad taste.”

Khan then reminded Morgan that in addition to permitting the anti-Trump balloon, the city has also approved a pro-Trump rally and a far-right rally on the upcoming weekend: "The issue is, do they have a right to protest? Do they have freedom to assemble? If it's peaceful and it's safe, they should be."

Focusing on Khan's perceived animus to Trump, Morgan asked why the London mayor didn't encourage similar protest when the autocratic leaders of Turkey or Saudi Arabia visited. Khan responded: "With our best friends, with countries with whom we have special relationships, the expectations are different. They're different like the relationship we have with a mate or an acquaintance."

Khan brought it back to free speech, while also making it personal: "I'm not sure why you're putting aside your long-held views on freedom of expression, freedom of speech, just because the guy just happens to be your best mate. It's a slippery slope."

Morgan​'s riposte: "My issue is with you. My issue is with the most senior politician in the capital city of this country treating Trump's visit here as an excuse to mock and humiliate him with this balloon at parliament. If they were doing this at Briton Beach I wouldn't have given it a monkey's toss."