President Donald Trump announced Thursday he was canceling a trip to London, England, citing a “bad deal” that the Obama administration had made in selling the U.S. Embassy located in that city.
Not long after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May extended an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II for the president to visit the nation. But the trip was highly controversial in the U.K., as many Britons vehemently oppose Trump, and protests were expected to occur when he did visit.
In December 2017, U.S. Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson said he hoped the president would visit London for the dedication of the new U.S. Embassy, according to The New York Times.
Trump’s visit was said to be scheduled for February, but in recent days, reports claimed this would not be the case.
On Thursday night, Trump took to Twitter to confirm this decision and explain his reasoning, saying that the Obama administration sold the existing embassy for “peanuts.”
“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,” the president tweeted.
“Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
According to CNN, it was actually in 2008, during the administration of former President George W. Bush, that it was decided the embassy would move from Grosvenor Square to Nine Elms.
At the time, officials said it would not be possible to implement necessary security measures in the old building. As a result, the existing building was sold to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, which plans to transform it into a hotel.
Trump’s decision was met with an unsurprising reaction from his British critics.
“Nope it’s because nobody wanted you to come. And you got the message,” said Ed Miliband, the former leader of the Labour Party in the British parliament.
“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,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement posted to Twitter.
Khan also suggested that perhaps May should have hesitated to “rush” an invitation for Trump.
But Nigel Farage — the former leader of the U.K. Independence Party and one of the most prominent supporters of the “Brexit” decision — expressed disappointment over Trump’s decision.
“It’s disappointing. He’s been to countries all over the world and yet he’s not been to the one with whom he’s closest,” Farage said on BBC radio, according to The U.K. Independent. “Maybe just maybe Sadiq Khan, (Labour leader) Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party planning mass protests, maybe those optics he didn’t like the look of.”
Last week, U.K. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said uninviting Trump after an offer has already been extended would be a mistake.
“I think Her Majesty the Queen is well capable of taking this American president, or indeed any American president, in her stride, as she has done over six remarkable decades,” he said.
Meanwhile, a British government official told CNN that the invitation for Trump to visit the country still stands.
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