LONDON: The British government blamed the threat of mass protests for United States (US) President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a visit to London to open the new US embassy, and warned that criticism of the White House risked harming US-UK relations. Trump said he was abandoning next month’s trip because he did not like the location and cost of the new embassy building. But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested the decision was prompted by the opposition to Trump in Britain, and warned such critics “seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk”.
Prime Minister Theresa May offered Trump a state visit to Britain one year ago, when she became the first foreign leader to visit the White House after his inauguration. But the date has yet to be set in the face of deep hostility to the president in Britain, prompting speculation it could be turned into a lower profile trip focused around the opening of the new embassy.
Trump tweeted overnight that he would not attend the ceremony, initially scheduled for next month. “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,” he wrote. Sadiq Khan welcomes Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said; “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.” The mayor, a member of the main opposition Labour party, said there would have been “mass peaceful protests”, and that it had been a “mistake” to invite him.
There is likely some relief in the British government at Trump’s decision, which would have caused at the very least a major policing operation. But Johnson accused Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of damaging US-UK relations with their vocal criticism. “The US is the biggest single investor in the UK, yet Khan and Corbyn seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk,” he tweeted.
“We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall,” he said. US ambassador In an article in London’s Evening Standard newspaper on Friday, US ambassador Woody Johnson said Washington was “reinvesting in the special relationship”.
“Our new embassy reflects not just America’s special history with the UK but the special future ahead of us as we advance the prosperity and security of both our nations,” he wrote. He conceded that the former building in up market Mayfair, central London, was a “perfect location” but noted it was viewed as too vulnerable following the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The new 12-storey, cube shaped building, designed by American architects Kieran Timberlake, is located in a regenerated area on the south bank of the River Thames. It will be open for business on January 16. US Embassy spokesman AUS Embassy spokesperson rejected Trump’s criticism of the new building on Friday, calling it “one of the most secure, hi-tech, and environmentally-friendly embassies the United States has ever built”, adding that the Nine Elms site “was the best overall location”. Leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, who visited Trump following his election, said it was “disappointing” the president could not visit when he had been to so many other countries.
Labour’s reaction Labour Party has said that Theresa May has humiliated the Queen with the controversy over inviting US president Donald Trump to the UK, Labour has said. The party’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry branded Mr Trump a “danger” and a “racist”, saying she did not want him in Britain. Ms Thornberry told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “I don’t want him to come to the country. I don’t think that he should have been given an invitation in the way that he was. That it was wrong for Theresa May to so prematurely give him a state visit. “I think that it embarrasses the Queen. I think that it is humiliation for her. I think it is wrong to have brought her into this in this way.
“It is very difficult once an invitation for a state visit has been made to withdraw it. Only the Queen can withdraw it and I don’t want to put her in that embarrassing position. I think though that the Government can give advice to Washington, and can say that we have to have security considerations. There will be major demonstrations.