Trump cites ‘bad deal’ in canceled Lon­don trip

He blames Obama for de­ci­sion Bush made

The Signal - - BUSINESS - Gre­gory Korte and Kim Hjelm­gaard Hjelm­gaard re­ported from Lon­don.

WASHINGTON – Pres­i­dent Trump said he canceled a planned trip to Lon­don be­cause he doesn’t want to cut the rib­bon at the new U.S. Em­bassy there that he de­scribed as a “bad deal.”

Trump’s visit had been in the plan­ning stages but hadn’t been an­nounced. The can­cel­la­tion could in­crease ten­sions with a vi­tal ally that has bro­ken with Trump re­cently over some of his rhetoric. Some neigh­bor­hoods in Lon­don de­clared them­selves off-lim­its to the pres­i­dent.

Trump con­firmed his de­ci­sion on Twit­ter late Thurs­day af­ter Bri­tish news­pa­pers re­ported that fears of mass protests had scut­tled the trip. A poll from last year found that about 4% of Bri­tain’s pop­u­la­tion — 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple — would protest a state visit by Trump.

He gave a dif­fer­ent rea­son, blam­ing for­mer pres­i­dent Obama.

“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 said in a tweet late Thurs­day. “Bad deal. Wanted me to cut rib­bon-NO!”

Ac­cord­ing to the State Depart­ment and the em­bassy it­self, Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion de­cided to build an em­bassy in 2006 and chose the lo­ca­tion in 2008.

The bil­lion-dol­lar price tag is typ­i­cal of an em­bassy con­struc­tion of that size. It was fi­nanced en­tirely by the sale of other U.S. prop­erty in Eng­land — not tax­payer money. It will open Tues­day.

The diplo­matic com­pound moved to Nine Elms, a for­merly in­dus­trial area of south­west Lon­don that has been part of re­gen­er­a­tion ef­forts for more than a decade.

Trump’s am­bas­sador to the United King­dom, Woody John­son, de­scribed the new em­bassy last month as a “sig­nal to the world” that the “spe­cial re­la­tion­ship” be­tween the na­tions “is stronger and is go­ing to grow and get bet­ter.”

The can­cel­la­tion may be an em­bar­rass­ment to Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May. Trump has vis­ited more than a dozen coun­tries be­fore Bri­tain, in­clud­ing Bel­gium, China, France, Germany, Is­rael, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Viet­nam.

May’s of­fice did not com­ment. Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has clashed with Trump over im­mi­gra­tion and other is­sues, did.

“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,” Khan said Fri­day in a tweet. “This re­in­forces what a mis­take it was for Theresa May to rush and ex­tend an in­vi­ta­tion of a state visit in the first place.”

Michael Wolff, au­thor of a highly crit­i­cal book about Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, Fire and Fury, told Bri­tain’s Daily

Mail news­pa­per that the coun­tries’ re­la­tion­ship could sour un­less Trump “gets what he wants.”

Part of what he wants, ac­cord­ing to Wolff, is an in­vi­ta­tion to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wed­ding in May. An in­vi­ta­tion is un­likely be­cause of Harry’s close re­la­tion­ship with Obama.

Bri­tain hopes to se­cure fa­vor­able terms on a new trade deal with the United States af­ter it leaves the Euro­pean Union in 2019.

“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.”

Sadiq Khan

Mayor of Lon­don

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