President Trump says he canceled his planned February visit to the U.K. in protest of a “bad deal” made during the Obama era.
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. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
At almost midnight on Thursday evening, the President tweeted that he was canceling his upcoming trip to London because he was “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.”
However, the sale of the previous embassy and acquisition of the new one were actually announced in 2008, under President George W. Bush.
The U.S. embassy in London will move from the Mayfair district to a larger building in Vauxhall, South London. According to the BBC, the Mayfair embassy was “too small to put in the modern security it needed.” The new embassy will open on January 16. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will likely preside over the ribbon-cutting.
Prime Minister Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit Trump last year after his inauguration. After her visit, she invited the president to London for a formal state visit.
A spokesperson for May told Reuters that the invitation was accepted although no formal date was set.
“The U.S. is one of our oldest and most valued allies and our strong and deep partnership will endure,” the spokesperson said, adding that the opening of the embassy was an American affair.
However, since then, Trump irked many in the U.K. after retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a leader of Britain’s far right. May said that it was “wrong” of the U.S. president to do so, but added that “the importance of the relationship between our countries — the unparalleled sharing of intelligence between our countries — is vital. It has undoubtedly saved British lives. That is the bigger picture here and I urge people to remember that.”
Last year, a petition to ban Trump from the UK gathered 1.8 million signatures from citizens. The issue even went before the British parliament, who debated revoking May’s invitation in February.
After Trump’s cancelation tweet, London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that Trump is “not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda. It seems he’s finally got that message.”