News

White House backtracks on Trump's UK snub

by
January 13, 2018

The "special relationship" is again under strain, with Donald Trump cancelling his visit to the UK.

President Donald Trump has cancelled a trip to London scheduled for next month to open a new embassy, saying he did not want to endorse what he understood was an Obama-era decision to move out of the old one.

The cancellation is a further blow to relations between the allies. More than a year into his presidency, Trump has yet to visit London, with many Britons vowing to protest against a man they see as crude, volatile and opposed to their values on a range of issues.

"(The) reason I canceled [sic] 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 ($A1.7 billion)," Trump said in a tweet late on Thursday.

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

The decision to acquire a new London embassy site on the south bank of the Thames was announced in 2008 under George W. Bush along with the plans to put the old Grosvenor Square site in upscale Mayfair up for sale.

Prime Minister Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit Trump, and they were filmed emerging from the White House holding hands. She later said Trump took her hand in a gentlemanly gesture as they walked down a ramp.

But British officials have been dismayed by some of Trump's pronouncements, particularly a proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States and most recently when Trump rebuked May on Twitter after she criticised him for retweeting British far-right anti-Islam videos.

May's spokesman told reporters Trump was welcome in London and that the invitation to visit had been accepted, although no date agreed. He said the opening of the embassy was a matter for the US government.

Many British politicians have voiced their opposition to Trump being granted a state visit, and say the invite should be recalled.

"Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda," London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has often exchanged barbs with Trump on social media, tweeted.

"It seems he's finally got the message."

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said opponents such as Khan were putting the relationship with the United States, the biggest investor in Britain, at risk.

The new embassy is a veritable fortress set back at least 30 metres from surrounding buildings and incorporating living quarters for US Marines permanently stationed inside.

The $US1 billion construction was funded by the sale of other properties in London.

By
More in National
Login Sign Up

Dummy text