Donald Trump has pulled out of a scheduled visit to the UK over fears that he would be met be widespread protests and derision.
The president was due to open the new £740m US embassy in south London in February, but has decided to cancel the visit. On Twitter, he claimed he scrapped the trip because he is “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”.
In reality, the decision to move current US embassy in Grosvenor Square, to Nine Elms was made by former President George W. Bush in 2008.
Moreover, the embassy in Grosvenor Square was not outright owned by the US government, but instead had a 999-year lease on the land from the Duke of Westminster, who owns 300 acres of land in central London, including most of Belgravia and Mayfair.
The Mayfair embassy buildings were also not sold for “peanuts”, but went for an estimated £500 million to the property arm of the Qatari royal family, Qatari Diar, which plans to turn the location into an exclusive hotel.
Trump’s decision not to visit the UK had nothing to do with the embassy move, but instead down to fears that his arrival would be protested by thousands of Britons, who would mercilessly ridicule the famously think-skinned billionaire politician.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, welcomed Trump’s decision, saying “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.
“His visit next month would without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests.
“This just reinforces what a mistake it was for Theresa May to rush and extend an invitation of a state visit in the first place.
“Let’s hope that Donald Trump also revisits the pursuit of his divisive agenda.”
Prime Minister Theresa May has stayed silent over Trump’s decision.