US President Donald Trump said Thursday night he no longer plans to attend the opening of a new US Embassy in London. He announced the decision in a midnight tweet amid reports in Britain that a Trump visit would be met with protests.
The president claimed however that he was nixing the trip – initially scheduled for next month – because he is displeased with the location of the new embassy and its 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!”
In contrast, the British government blamed the threat of mass protests for the decision.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested the decision was prompted by the opposition to Trump in Britain, and warned such critics “seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk.”
Prime Minister Theresa May offered Trump a state visit to Britain one year ago, when she became the first foreign leader to visit the White House after his inauguration. But the date has yet to be set in the face of deep hostility to the president in Britain, prompting speculation it could be turned into a lower profile trip focused around the opening of the new embassy.
His decision not to come was welcomed by critics outraged by the US travel ban on Muslim majority countries, and more recently, Trump’s decision to re-tweet anti-Muslim videos posted by Britain First, a British far-right organisation.
“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.