LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump cancelled a visit to London scheduled for subsequent month to open a brand new embassy, saying he didn’t wish to endorse what he understood was an Obama-era resolution to maneuver out of the outdated one.
The cancellation is an additional blow to relations between the allies. More than a yr into his presidency, Trump has but to go to London, with many Britons vowing to protest in opposition to a person they see as crude, unstable and against their values on a variety of points.
“(The) 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,” Trump mentioned in a tweet late on Thursday. bit.ly/2D48GB2
“Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!” Trump mentioned.
The resolution to amass a brand new London embassy website on the south financial institution of the Thames was introduced in 2008 underneath George W. Bush together with the plans to place the outdated Grosvenor Square website in upscale Mayfair up on the market.
A pillar of Britain’s overseas coverage since World War Two, the so-called “special relationship” with Washington has taken on added significance as Britain prepares to depart the European Union in 2019 and seeks new main commerce offers.
Prime Minister Theresa May was the primary overseas chief to go to Trump after his inauguration in January final yr, and so they had been filmed rising from the White House holding fingers. She later mentioned Trump took her hand in a gentlemanly gesture as they walked down a ramp.
But British officers have been dismayed by a few of Trump’s pronouncements, significantly a proposed ban on Muslims getting into the United States and most lately when Trump rebuked May on Twitter after she criticised him for retweeting British far-right anti-Islam movies.
During May’s U.S. journey a yr in the past, she prolonged an invite to Trump to make a proper state go to – which incorporates pomp, pageantry and a banquet with Queen Elizabeth.
May’s spokesman informed reporters Trump was welcome in London and that the invitation to go to had been accepted, though no date agreed. He mentioned the opening of the embassy was a matter for the U.S. government.
“The U.S. is one of our oldest and most valued allies and our strong and deep partnership will endure,” the spokesman mentioned.
“HE‘S GOT THE MESSAGE”
Many British politicians have voiced their opposition to Trump being granted a state go to, and say the invite ought to 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 usually exchanged barbs with Trump on social media, tweeted.
“It seems he’s finally got the message.”
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson mentioned opponents corresponding to Khan had been placing the connection with the United States, the largest investor in Britain, in danger.
“We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed-up, pompous popinjay in City Hall,” Johnson tweeted.
The American flag was this month faraway from Grosvenor Square the place the U.S. embassy has been primarily based since 1938 with the realm referred to as “Little America” throughout World War Two, when the sq. additionally housed the navy headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In Oct. 2008, the embassy was put up on the market and, the next yr, bought to Gulf investor Qatari Diar. The buy worth was not disclosed. In 2009, it was given “listed” standing which limits modifications that may be made to the constructing’s exterior due to its historic significance.
Woody Johnson, Trump’s appointed U.S. ambassador to Britain, informed reporters final month that moving to the brand new website at Nine Elms mirrored “the global outlook of the U.S. going forward in the 21st century: rather looking out, than looking in”.
“This isn’t just a new office, though, it signifies a new era of friendship between out two countries. President Trump wants us to work more closely than ever with the UK,” mentioned Johnson, including he hoped the president would attend the opening ceremony.
There had lengthy been safety considerations concerning the Grosvenor Square website, courting again to the late 1990s after assaults on U.S. embassies in Africa.
Some native residents had opposed measures that they felt would detract from one among London’s plushest neighbourhoods whereas others feared not sufficient was being accomplished to make sure they’d not be caught up in any assault.
The new embassy is a veritable fortress set again no less than 100 toes (30 metres) from surrounding buildings – principally newly-erected high-rise residential blocks – and incorporating dwelling quarters for U.S. Marines completely stationed inside.
The $1 billion (£733.47 million) building was funded by the sale of different properties in London.
Additional reporting by David Milliken, Alisitair Smout and Kanishka Singh; Writing by Michael Holden; Editing by Robin Pomeroy