US President Donald Trump has snubbed the UK by cancelling an upcoming trip — but London’s mayor has made it clear they don’t want him there.
Trump, who was due to head to London to open a new US embassy, wrote on Twitter that he was abandoning the trip — initially scheduled for next month — because he did not like the location and price tag of the new building.
“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 wrote.
“Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
But in his own tweet, London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote: “Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda. It seems he’s finally got that message.”
Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda. It seems he’s finally got that message. pic.twitter.com/YD0ZHuWtr3
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) January 12, 2018
In his tweet, Khan also wrote: “Let’s hope that Donald Trump also revisits the pursuit of his divisive agenda.”
The decision to ditch his trip to London comes after Trump used vulgar language to question why the US would accept more immigrants from African countries and Haiti.
One of the sources who was briefed on the conversation said that Trump said, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries … We should have more people from Norway.” The second source familiar with the conversation, said Trump, who has vowed to clamp down on illegal immigration, also questioned the need for Haitians in the United States.
The African Union continental body told The Associated Press it was “frankly alarmed” by Trump’s comments.
“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said. “This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.” African governments quickly found themselves in an awkward position. As top recipients of U.S. aid, some hesitated to jeopardise it by criticising Trump, especially as his administration has sought to slash foreign assistance. “Unless it was specifically said about South Sudan, we have nothing to say,” South Sudan government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told The Associated Press. African media outlets and the continent’s young, increasingly connected population were being less shy.
“Casual Friday at the White House is soon to include hoods and tiki torches at this rate,” South African media outlet Daily Maverick wrote.
TRUMP STATE VISIT INVITE STILL ON OFFER
Despite this, Trump has also been offered a state visit to Britain, and Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said Friday that nothing has changed, although no date has been set.
There had been strong opposition to the invitation, at first over Trump’s travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, and then most recently his re-tweet of a far-right organisation, Britain First.
“This is somebody who has promoted hatred and propaganda from a far-right organisation in this country,” said opposition Labour politician Chuka Umunna, saying Trump’s decision not to come was “very welcome.” Stephen Doughty, another Labour MP, tweeted: “Reason @realDonaldTrump cancelled trip to London is that we are not a big fan of his racist, sexist, unthinking behaviour.
“Big protests if he came to cut ribbon. He wanted the red carpet treatment and cheering crowds — NO!”
But leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, who visited Trump following his election, said the decision was “disappointing”.
He said that plans for protests by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan — who has traded barbs with Trump on Twitter — may have been a factor.
“Maybe, just maybe, Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party planning mass protests, maybe those optics he didn’t like the look of,” he said.
THE CONTROVERSIAL EMBASSY
Asked about Trump’s stated reasons for refusing to open the new embassy, Farage replied: “He’s the real estate guy.” The decision to move the embassy from its prestigious location in Mayfair, central London, was taken by the administration of former Republican president George W. Bush in October 2008.
The new 12-storey, cube-shaped building, which is due to open to the public on January 16, has been built in a nondescript area south of the River Thames, which is now subject to a major regeneration project.
As recently as January 7, May reiterated that the state visit is still planned, saying “Trump is coming to the UK.” However, relations between the pair have been strained since May became the first foreign leader to visit Trump following his inauguration in January 2017.
In November, she said the president was “wrong” to re-tweet anti-Muslim videos posted by Britain First, prompting an extraordinary rebuke from the White House.
“Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom,” Trump hit back.
May stressed afterwards that Britain and the United States have “a long-term special relationship … it is an enduring relationship that is there because its in both our nations’ interests”.