Trump calls off London trip and blames Obama - again
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may take president’s place at US embassy opening
Donald Trump has cancelled a visit to Britain to open the new US embassy in what he claims is a protest over Barack Obama having negotiated a “bad deal” for the previous site.
But commentators were quick to point out that the decision to move the embassy, from Mayfair to south London, was actually taken during the administration of ex-president George W. Bush.
British newspapers say Trump’s cancellation was actually linked to fears of mass protests, with London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan adding that Trump “got the message”, reports the London Evening Standard.
The transatlantic spat started just before 5am GMT on Friday, when the president tweeted: “Reason I cancelled 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. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon - NO!”
The Times was among those pointing out that the embassy’s move was first reported in October 2008 - a month before Obama was elected. “And the billion-dollar price tag is typical of an embassy construction of that size,” USA Today adds.
It is believed that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will now take president’s place at next month’s embassy opening, says The Guardian.
Theresa May was the first world leader to meet Trump following his inauguration last January and was criticised for inviting him for a state visit - “an offer that was said to have caused concern at Buckingham Palace”, according to The Times.
With activists pledging to stage mass protests, and MPs determined not to give the president the opportunity to address Parliament, no date for the visit has been set. The Daily Mail says the “lack of ‘bells and whistles’ and royal involvement” may also have “discouraged” Trump from coming to London.
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the cancellation of Trump’s trip was “disappointing”, adding: “Maybe, just maybe, Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party planning mass protests, those optics, he didn’t like the look of.”
The president’s no-show “raises questions about the stability of the so-called special relationship: in his first year, Trump has managed to visit Belgium, China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy (twice), Japan, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Vatican City, Vietnam and the West Bank,” says The Times’s Matt Chorley.