US president Donald Trump has confirmed he will not travel to the UK to open the new American embassy – and hit out at the location of the 1.2 billion dollar (£886 million) project.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Trump said he thought the embassy’s move from Grosvenor Square in the prestigious Mayfair district of central London to Nine Elms, south of the Thames, was a “bad deal”.
He wrote: “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!”
British government sources said they had never officially been informed of a date for Mr Trump to make a visit, but speculation had suggested he would formally open the embassy at a ceremony in February.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
The new building will open for business on January 16.
In December Ambassador Woody Johnson said he was looking forward to welcoming the president when he visited, adding: “I think he will be very impressed with this building and the people who occupy it.”
He said the new embassy was a “signal to the world that this special relationship that we have is stronger and is going to grow and get better”.
Despite Mr Trump publicly blaming predecessor Barack Obama, the US announced plans to move to the new site in October 2008 – when George W Bush was in the White House.
On the embassy web page about the project, it said: “The project has been funded entirely by the proceeds of the sale of other US Government properties in London, not through appropriated funds.”
Mr Trump’s decision not to head across the Atlantic comes despite Prime Minister Theresa May saying that a future visit was still on the cards last week.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “Our position is that an offer for a state visit has been extended and accepted.”
Mrs May controversially extended the offer of a state visit – officially on behalf of the Queen – when she became the first world leader to meet Mr Trump in the White House following his inauguration last year.
Nope it’s because nobody wanted you to come. And you got the message. https://t.co/9xV7bFZQgL
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) January 12, 2018
Since then, however, the president has indicated he does not want to take up the invitation if he is going to face mass demonstrations and it had been expected he could make a low-key working visit rather than a trip which involved all the trappings of a state occasion.
Last month, the White House said it would announce details “soon” of Mr Trump’s proposed visit to the UK.
In reply to Mr Trump’s tweet, former Labour leader Ed Miliband posted: “Nope it’s because nobody wanted you to come. And you got the message.”
Reason @realDonaldTrump canceled trip to London is that we are not a big fan of his racist, sexist, unthinking behaviour. Big protests if he came to cut ribbon. He wanted the red carpet treatment and cheering crowds – NO!
— Stephen Doughty MP / AS (@SDoughtyMP) January 12, 2018
Mrs May and Mr Trump fell out spectacularly in November over his retweeting of anti-Muslim videos posted online by the deputy leader of the far-right Britain First group, Jayda Fransen.
At the time, the PM said Mr Trump was “wrong” to retweet the videos, and the US president hit back at Mrs May on Twitter by telling her to focus on “destructive radical Islamic terrorism” in the UK, rather than on him.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe