LONDON — Many Londoners on Friday offered their own reasons for President Trump canceling a possible trip to the British capital: He was nervous about the expected protests that could greet him.
“It seems he’s finally got that message,” wrote London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.
In a tweet sent at 5 a.m. London time, Trump said that he was canceling a visit to the British capital because he was “not a big fan” of the real estate deal that saw the United States selling its old embassy, located in one of the poshest areas in London, and moving to a shiny new building in south London, an area Trump described as “off location.”
Trump tweeted: “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.”
In fact, it was the George W. Bush administration that decided more than a decade ago to relocate the embassy during a worldwide push for greater security at U.S. diplomatic sites.
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
Khan, the mayor of London and frequent foe of Trump, tweeted that Trump had finally got the message that he wasn’t welcome in the British capital.
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
David Lammy, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour party, believed Trump was shaken by the prospect of being “met by millions of us out on the streets protesting.”
What a load of ********! You finally got the message that you’d be met by millions of us out on the streets protesting. https://t.co/L0Y4Q42bcT
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) January 12, 2018
Ed Miliband, the former leader of the Labour Party, also agreed that Trump had “got the message.”
But at least one prominent British cabinet official took no joy in the gloating. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson — a former mayor of London — accused the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Khan of endangering the “crucial relationship” between the United States and Britain. He even got in an extra jab at Khan, calling him a “puffed up pompous popinjay.”
The US is the biggest single investor in the UK – yet Khan & Corbyn seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk. We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 12, 2018
Nope it’s because nobody wanted you to come. And you got the message. https://t.co/9xV7bFZQgL
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) January 12, 2018
Trump is a hugely controversial figure in Britain where he recently succeeded in uniting politicians across the political aisle when he retweeted a far-right group’s anti-Muslim videos. After British Prime Minister Theresa May said he was wrong to share the videos, Trump hit back at May telling her to focus on terrorism in Britain. That sparked another debate about Trump in Parliament — not for the first time — where politicians from all parties condemned the president’s tweets.
There is reason to believe that a visit by Trump — whether an official state visit or a lower-key working visit — would be met by a howl of opposition on the streets. The Trump visit was never officially announced, but he was widely expected to attend ceremonies next month to dedicate the new embassy.
Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, around 100,000 demonstrators hit the streets of London for the Women’s March in solidarity with anti-Trump rallies worldwide.
A group called “Stop Trump” promised the “biggest demonstration in British history” should Trump visit. On a Facebook event page, more than 8,000 registered to attend a rally for an event that wasn’t even scheduled.
“Put the date into your diaries: If Donald Trump attempts to sneak into the UK to open the US Embassy on 26/27th February 2018 and also pop into see Theresa May at Downing Street — he will be met by a million of us attempting a citizens arrest of him for incitement to racial hatred,” the group said.
A wax figure of the U.S. president apparently didn’t get the memo as it somehow popped up outside of the new U.S. embassy, a glass cube south of the River Thames.
The Madame Tussauds waxwork of Donald Trump has found its way in front of the new US embassy in London after the president tweeted he would not be visiting for its opening
— PA Images (@PAImages) January 12, 2018
The visit to the embassy was expected to be a scaled down, working visit that would include a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
When asked about Trump calling off his embassy visit, a Downing Street spokesman reiterated that a full state visit, where the queen acts as official host, “has been accepted and stands.”
The offer for the state visit was made just a week after Trump’s inauguration, but no date has been set.