Wed, 16 Oct 2019

Trump's decision to cancel London trip draws anger, mockery

By Sheetal Sukhija, Pennsylvania State News.Net
13 Jan 2018, 00:58 GMT+10

LONDON, U.K. - Gripped with raging controversies, the U.S. President Donald Trump raked up another one overnight, after cancelling a planned trip to London.

Trump was believed to have canceled the trip to London, where he had been expected to open the new $1 billion U.S. embassy, in a bid to avoid mass protests being planned by his political opponents.

It was then believed that the U.S. President would be replaced by U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who would inaugurate the embassy. 

However, Trump clarified in a late-night tweet, that his decision was due to the president's concerns about the embassy's move from the tony Mayfair district to a far less fashionable area of London. 

According to reports, the move ended a 200-year U.S. association with London's Grosvenor Square.

The move was said to be part of American efforts to secure diplomatic staff in compounds - a push tied to terror concerns after al-Qaida bombings at two U.S. embassies in East Africa, ten years back.

Trump said overnight on Twitter, "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. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!" Trump tweeted.

Experts however pointed out that the move was announced in 2008, even before President Barack Obama was elected. 

At the time, U.S. Ambassador Robert Tuttle had argued that the decision to move to the five-acre site on the south side of the River Thames came after a "long and careful process."

Despite Trump's plans being made public, neither the U.S., not authorities in U.K. announced a specific date for Trump's visit. 

It was however, speculated that the president would formally open the embassy at a ceremony in February. 

Last month, Ambassador Woody Johnson said he was looking forward to welcoming the president when he visited. 

On Friday, following Trump's announcement, in which he, yet again, blamed his predecessor, even the President's biggest supporters suggested that the planned protests played a role in his decision not to visit London.

In an interview with BBC, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, a Trump ally said, "He has been to countries all over the world and yet he has not been to the one with whom he is closest. I would say that it's disappointing. But maybe Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party planning mass protests, maybe those optics he didn't like the look of."

Meanwhile, the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan said, "It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city's values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance. His visit next month would without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests."

Khan yet again repeated his previous claim that it was a mistake for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to invite him on a state visit.

However, the foreign minister Boris Johnson slammed Khan as a "pompous popinjay" for celebrating Trump's canceled U.K. trip.

Johnson tweeted, "[Khan] seems determined to put this crucial relationship at risk."

Late last year, some British lawmakers questioned whether Trump would be welcome to the country after he re-tweeted controversial videos from a far-right British group.

Previously, the U.S. President even criticized the Mayor of London following a terror attack in the U.K.

Ever since the start of his presidency, Trump has remained deeply unpopular in the U.K.

Last year, a petition to stop Trump from making an official state visit to Britain garnered over 1.8 million signatures, in a backlash over his controversial travel ban.

On Friday, a U.K. official said that the invitation to Trump for a state visit, first extended by May during her visit to the U.S. early in Trump's presidency, still stands.

The officials said, "The invitation for a State Visit has been extended and accepted."

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