Donald Trump

It’s Obama’s fault, says Trump, after scrapping UK trip to open new embassy

Trump says he won’t open new embassy in London because it is in an ‘off location’, and Obama sold previous site for ‘peanuts’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 10:13am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 11:03pm

US President Donald Trump announced Friday he will no longer attend the opening of the new US embassy in London, a move welcomed by critics in Britain who had planned mass protests.

He wrote on Twitter that he was abandoning the trip – initially expected next month – because he did not like the location or price tag.

“Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars,” Trump wrote. “Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon – NO!”

There had been speculation that the trip would be merged with a planned state visit to Britain offered to Trump by Prime Minister Theresa May, which has met strong public and political opposition.

A spokesman for her Downing Street office said on Friday said that the state visit plans have not changed, although no date has yet been set.

Some oppose Trump’s visit because of his travel ban on people from Muslim-majority countries.

“Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda. It seems he’s finally got that message,” tweeted Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

But leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, who visited Trump even before May did, said the decision was “disappointing”.

“He’s been to countries all over the world and yet he’s not been to the one with whom he’s closest,” he said.

Farage said that plans for protests by Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn may have been a factor.

“Maybe, just maybe, Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party planning mass protests, maybe those optics he didn’t like the look of,” he told BBC radio.

Asked about Trump’s stated reasons for refusing to open the new embassy, Farage said: “He’s the real estate guy.”

The new 12-floor, cube-shaped building, designed by American architects KieranTimberlake, is on the south bank of the River Thames. It will be open for business on January 16.

The decision to move from the former prestigious location in Mayfair, central London, was taken by the administration of former Republican president George W. Bush in October 2008, partly for security reasons in the wake of the September 11, attacks.

In December, Ambassador Woody Johnson said he was looking forward to welcoming the president: “I think he will be very impressed with this building and the people who occupy it.”

He said the new embassy was a “signal to the world that this special relationship that we have is stronger and is going to grow and get better”.

As recently as January 7, May said the state visit was still planned, saying “Trump is coming to the UK”. However, relations between the pair have been strained.

In November, she said the president was “wrong” to re-tweet videos posted by right-ring group Britain First.

“Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom,” Trump hit back.