Eyes on London the Next Two Days

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and US President Barack Obama
with Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,
US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Chancellor Alistair Darling
at Downing Street, 1 April 2009
Photo from FCO under CC license

BBC News has devoted a page of live text commentary to the London Summit. It promises to follow “every diplomatic pas de deux and protesters’ placard.” Some selected posts below – kind of like Twitter except that posts are not limited to 140 characters. Follow the commentaries here. Commentaries for Day 2 is here (updated 4/3)

Just a few minutes behind schedule, US President Barack Obama arrives in Downing Street for a meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

0820 A glimpse of the first ladies as they pose for a photocall on the steps of Downing Street with their husbands. Looking reasonably informal, Sarah Brown is in a blue dress, Michelle Obama tops her outfit with a silver patterned cardigan.

Sarah Brown will host a First Wives Club later (not expected to include the husbands of Germany and Argentina’s female leaders). The Saudi Arabian king’s four wives are not making the journey either. With the French president’s wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, another no-show, Michelle Obama looks set to be Queen Bee.

The G20 spouses, as the leaders’ other halves are known, can look forward to Welsh lamb, Jersey Royal new potatoes and asparagus for dinner this evening. Michelle Obama will be seated between Harry Potter author JK Rowling and Olympic runner Dame Kelly Holmes, we are told.

Much drooling over Obama’s Cadillac One, aka The Beast. It has bullet-proof windows, 5in armour designed to brush off a chemical attack and on-board supplies of Obama’s blood type. Eat your heart out MTV’s Pimp My Ride! President Obama’s security bubble

0916 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says: It almost appears any deal will do. Gordon Brown believes it is vital the markets and public see G20 unity, what he describes as getting the oxygen of confidence into the system.

1006 Good point Lewis (below) about the smoke-filled room, because foreign dignitaries at the G20 will be exempt from the UK smoking ban. Does this leave you fuming, reader?

1026 Obama says history shows that when nations fail to co-operate the price for our people is great. That is the lesson of the Great Depression. We must reject protectionism.

1104 Obama praises extraordinary affinity and kinship with British people, we owe so much to the UK and it is a special place, he says. But he refuses to get drawn into supporting England for tonight’s World Cup clash against Ukraine!

1118 The US president’s information pack for his trip to Europe describes the UK, under geography, as “slightly smaller than Oregon” (!).

1153 Protesters at the Bank of England are getting louder, some are chanting: “Revolution”. They are calling for the bankers and Gordon Brown to be put on a bonfire.

Scotland Yard says eight people have been arrested after being found in possession of police uniforms. They were thought to be travelling in the armoured vehicle stopped earlier. Police estimate there are about 3,000 protestors in the City of London.

BBC’s Joe Lynam in Westminster texts: If you thought any trouble would come from protesters during G20, think again. Scuffles broke out in Downing St between press photographers trying to get the best shot when Obama arrived to meet Brown. The police even had to intervene to prevent the situation getting uglier!

1245 Scotland Yard says the number of people arrested now stands at 11.

1258 The BBC’s Mark Georgiou texts: The crowd outside the Bank of England is getting increasingly tense. The police line in Threadneedle street is becoming the focus of loud attention.

The BBC News G20 page is here. The official website of London Summit 2009 is here. The website is webcasting live the most important events of the G20 London Summit – including the arrivals and press conference in cooperation with the host broadcaster. Videos will also be available in its video-on-demand archive.