President Donald Trump’s decision to forgo a visit to London to open a new US embassy kindled doubts about his justification for staying away — even from his own nation’s diplomats.
Trump asserted on Twitter that he “canceled” his trip to the UK next month because he didn’t like the deal under which the embassy was moved. He blamed President Barack Obama’s administration for selling the old site for “peanuts” and building the new embassy in an “off location.” In short, the real estate mogul pegged it as a lousy deal.
Yet the US embassy in London joined British officials in rebutting his claims. The old building had “aged beyond its ability” to be improved to meet security and safety standards without a major infrastructure investment, the embassy said in a statement. Teams surveyed more than 50 sites before settling on the area of Vauxhall, south of the river Thames, for the new location, according to the statement.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office took issue with Trump’s unflattering portrait of the new site as an “off location.” “Vauxhall is a vibrant and important part of London and ho-me to many businesses,” May’s spokesman Max Blain told reporters. May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy suggested the president should try visiting a famous place in the area.
Relations between the US and its closest ally have been tested repeatedly since Trump took office almost a year ago. An invitation from May for Trump to visit Queen Elizabeth II has encountered growing opposition, fueled in part by the president’s Twitter criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan
and his retweets of propag-anda from a far-right British anti-Muslim group.
Londoners “have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here,” Khan said. “His visit next month would without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests.” Still, British officials said their government had been working on the basis that Trump would arrive in late February, though no firm date had been set.
The president, however, had become fed up with all the criticism and considered it an affront not only to his administration, but to his country, a White House official said.
The official, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive diplomatic matter, said Trump’s decision reflected his belief that there was nothing to gain by going to Britain now.