" [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.
Why: Trump and Khan have traded insults in the past.
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.
PLAY BY PLAY
Morgan questioned Khan on whether he would have sanctioned a similar protest of Obama: "
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."