Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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Trump cancels UK trip citing Obama's 'bad' embassy deal

US president says he will not visit London to open new US embassy, blaming Obama for selling previous one for 'peanuts'.

US embassy

US President Donald Trump has cancelled a visit to the UK expected to take place next month, citing his displeasure at the new US embassy in London he was due to inaugurate.

In a tweet, Trump said the new embassy building was part of a "bad deal" as he blamed the Obama administration for selling the previous one in Grosvenor Square for "peanuts".

However, the relocation plan was first reported when former President George W Bush was still in the White House, in 2008.

The new embassy, which cost $1.2bn, is located near Battersea Power Station in southwest London. US government sources have hinted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would be the one to open the embassy.

In a statement on Friday, London's mayor Sadiq Khan said that Trump's planned visit for next month would have "without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests".

"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," Khan said. "Let's hope that Donald Trump also revisits the pursuit of his divisive agenda."

David Lammy, a member of the opposition Labour party, also doubted Trump's reason for bailing out on the trip.

"What a load of ********!" Lammy tweeted. "You finally got the message that you’d be met by millions of us out on the streets protesting."

Far-right debacle

UK Prime Minister Theresa May had extended an invitation to Trump for a state visit after she became the first world leader to visit the new president in the White House last year.

The agenda of a state visit is agreed upon by the UK government, the visiting government, and the royal family, with Queen Elizabeth acting as the official host.

However, in the aftermath of Trump retweeting an account associated with the far-right nationalist group Britain First back in November, many politicians and MPs made it clear that the US president would not be welcome.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna told media at the time that Trump is "normalising hatred".

"I am absolutely astounded that any person in his position holding the office he does should be promoting the propaganda of a far-right British group," Umunna said.

House of Commons speaker John Bercow had previously said he would not allow the US president to speak at Westminster because of parliament's opposition "to racism and to sexism".

Last month, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged the British public to come out in full force if Trump visited the UK in order to send him a "clear message".

Almost two million people signed a petition in 2017 calling for the president's invitation to be withdrawn.

The prime minister's office did not confirm that the visit has been cancelled, with a spokesperson reportedly telling media that "an invitation has been extended and accepted, but no date has been set".

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