Artist’s render of the new US embassy due for opening next month in Nine Elms, London (US Embassy)

Trump cancelled London visit over “mass protests”, mayor claims

12 January 2018 | By GCR Staff 0 Comments

US President Donald Trump cancelled his visit to London to open the new US embassy because he was put off by the prospect of mass protests against him, the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan has claimed.

The mayor’s jibe followed Trump’s surprise Twitter announcement in the early hours of today that he was cancelling the visit because he disapproved of the decision to sell the embassy in Grosvenor Square “for peanuts” and relocate it to a new building south of the Thames in Nine Elms, which he dismissed as an “off location”.

“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”– Sadiq Khan, London Mayor

It was, Trump said in characteristic fashion, a “bad deal”, for which he blamed his predecessor, Barrack Obama, even though the decision to move the embassy to Nine Elms was made in October 2008, when George W. Bush was president.

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!”

However, London mayor Sadiq Khan, with whom Trump has traded jibes before over terrorism in the UK capital, hit back, saying the president was wary of the “mass peaceful protests” he claimed would greet any visit by Trump.

“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,” Khan said in a tweeted statement.

“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.”

He concluded: “Let’s hope that Donald Trump also revisits the pursuit of his divisive agenda.”

There are reports that the ribbon may now be cut by US secretary of state Rex Tillerson instead. Trump’s trip was not the full state visit offered by prime minister Theresa May, for which no date has so far been set.

The president had been due next month to cut the ribbon on the new, 11-storey building designed by Philadelphia-based Kieran Timberlake.

Alabama-based contractor BL Harbert International, working with UK firm Sir Robert McAlpine, began work on the new embassy in November 2013. Reported to have cost in the region of £1bn, it is a cuboid structure clad in ETFE quilted fabric.

The decision to move the embassy from its famous Chancery building in Mayfair was taken in 2008.

Barrack Obama was, however, president when the modernist concrete building on Grovenor Square was sold to the real estate firm Qatari Diar, owned by the Qatari royal family, in November 2009.

In 2016 Qatari Diar won local authority approval to turn the Grade II listed building into a hotel.

Image: Artist’s render of the new US embassy due for opening next month in Nine Elms, London (US Embassy)