LONDON - If President Donald Trump likes a little chaos, a little disruption on his travels, he has come to the right place.
Asked about the mass demonstrations scheduled for his trip to Britain, Trump said Thursday at a NATO press conference, "I think they like me a lot in the U.K. I think they agree with me on immigration. I'm very strong on immigration."
He added, "I'm going to a pretty hot spot right now with a lot of resignations."
As Air Force One landed at London Stansted Airport Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Theresa May's government was beset by division, her compromise plan to exit the European Union was being excoriated by critics, and rebels in her own Conservative party were threatening a no-confidence vote.
Add to the mix that England lost to Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday night, and the nation was suffering from a collective hangover, and not the good kind. Meanwhile, out in the quiet English countryside, 100 counter-terrorism investigators have concluded that a middle-aged British woman was killed by a dose of Soviet-era nerve agent, the same batch of chemical weapon that May charged was deployed on English soil by Russian actors, likely with President Vladimir Putin's knowledge.
Trump is scheduled to meet Putin Monday in Helsinki.
Trump's aides have feared that the wall-to-wall protests could lead the president to lash out during the trip, and great care has been taken to keep him from the demonstrations.
When Trump said earlier in the day that the British liked him a lot, he drew laughs from reporters at the news conference. The president did not appear to be joking but has privately complained his possible reception.
Trump has taken particular interest in the political turmoil in London in recent days, and aides have been coy about whether he will meet with Boris Johnson, whom he has called "my friend." British officials have said privately that would be a "disaster" for May, in the words of one.
Trump was initially invited to a regal state visit last year by May. That invitation has been downgraded to a working visit. Trump and his wife, Melania, will get an audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle - an hour with the monarch for tea.
They'll be a gala dinner at a palace, too, and military bands and Scottish bagpipes.
One of Trump's former allies, Steve Bannon, has been camped out in London meeting right-wing populist figures.
Trump will see a number of friends at an exclusive dinner Thursday evening at Blenheim Palace, including Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of conservative media company Newsmax.
Yet hanging over the bilateral meeting is the feeling that Trump and May are out of sorts, at a time when the British government really, really needs Trump to promise some of the fantastic trade deals that would produce the "global Britain" May has promised after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union next year.
Before his departure for Europe, Trump was asked if he thought May should continue as leader. He shrugged and said "That's up to the people." He added that he'd "always liked" Boris Johnson, May's rival, who just quit as foreign secretary while calling her Brexit plans a shambles that will turn Britain into "a colony" of Europe.
Trump got it right when he conceded Britain was "somewhat in turmoil."