UK blames protests as US President Donald Trump cancels London trip

Trump said he was abandoning next month's trip because he did not like the location and cost of the new embassy building.

Published: 12th January 2018 10:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th January 2018 10:02 PM   |  A+A-

US President Donald Trump (File | Reuters)

By AFP

LONDON: The British government blamed the threat of mass protests for President Donald Trump's decision Friday to cancel a visit to London to open the new US embassy, and warned that criticism of the White House risked harming US-UK relations.

Trump said he was abandoning next month's trip because he did not like the location and cost of the new embassy building.

But 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.

Trump tweeted overnight that he would not attend the ceremony, initially scheduled for next month.

"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," he wrote.

"Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon - NO!"

- 'Finally got that message' -
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 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.

The mayor, a member of the main opposition Labour party, said there would have been "mass peaceful protests", and that it had been a "mistake" to invite him.

There is likely some relief in the British government at Trump's decision, which would have caused at the very least a major policing operation.

But Johnson accused Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of damaging US-UK relations with their vocal criticism.

"The US is the biggest single investor in the UK -- yet Khan & Corbyn seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk," he tweeted. 

"We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall."

- Strained UK-US ties -
A spokesman for May's Downing Street office said the invitation for the state visit "has been extended and accepted. No date has been confirmed".

"The US is one of our oldest and most valued allies and our strong and deep partnership will endure," he said.

Relations between May and Trump became strained in November after he re-tweeted  anti-Muslim videos posted by a British far-right group.

May condemned it, and Trump hit back that she should focus on terrorism in Britain, which suffered five attacks last year. 

In an article in London's Evening Standard newspaper on Friday, US ambassador Woody Johnson said Washington was "re-investing in the special relationship".

"Our new embassy reflects not just America's special history with the UK but the special future ahead of us as we advance the prosperity and security of both our nations," he wrote.

He conceded that the former building in upmarket Mayfair, central London, was a "perfect location" but noted it was viewed as too vulnerable following the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The new 12-storey, cube-shaped building, designed by American architects KieranTimberlake, is located in a regenerated area on the south bank of the River Thames. 

It will be open for business on January 16, completing a decade-long project began by the administration of former Republican president George W. Bush.

Leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, who visited Trump following his election, said it was "disappointing" the president could not visit when he had been to so many other countries.

But Stephen Doughty, an opposition Labour lawmaker, tweeted: "We are not a big fan of his racist, sexist, unthinking behaviour." 

In Trump's absence, the Madame Tussauds museum installed the president's waxwork outside the new embassy, causing construction workers to crowd round and pose for selfies.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.