Trump cites ‘bad deal’ in canceled London trip
He blames Obama for decision Bush made
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.”
Mayor of London