Donald Trump Friday scrapped his planned visit to London to open the new U.S. embassy next month, citing the Obama administration’s decision to sell off the old building for “peanuts” — a “bad deal” not to be associated with, he said.
But his history is off: The embassy sale was rubber-stamped by George W. Bush on Oct. 8, 2008, a month before Obama’s election. So it could be that Trump simply refuses to face the protests his visit would spur.
Trump confirmed the cancellation amid a barrage of “executive time” tweets Friday morning, noting how the old embassy was “the best located and finest embassy in London.”
The U.S. government decided to relocate its embassy for security reasons; the Grosvenor Square building was susceptible to attack, it said.
The building was eventually sold to the Qatari royal family, the sale financing the building of the new embassy, which sits in Nine Elms near Battersea.
“The project has been funded entirely by the proceeds of the sale of other U.S. government properties in London, not through appropriated funds,” the embassy website says of the new $1 billion structure, which will open Jan. 16.
The White House indicated Friday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will cut the ribbon in Trump’s place.
Not only would the visit have sparked mass protests from Britons, Trump would have faced opposition from MPs, with many insisting Trump should never be allowed to address Parliament.
There was outrage when Prime Minister Theresa May extended the offer of a state visit to Trump last year after she became the first world leader to visit the the new president at the White House.
May was still confident last week that Trump’s visit would go ahead, telling MPs the U.S. president “will be coming to this country.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who had long voiced his opposition to Trump’s visit, said Friday morning that the U.S. president had “finally got that message.”
Many members of Britain's political class were similarly scathing: