President Donald Trump has canceled a trip to London to open the new $1 billion U.S. Embassy in the British capital, a move that avoided protests promised by political opponents.
Trump tweeted that he would not visit to open the embassy, saying the decision was because Barack Obama had sold the previous building in Grosvenor Square "for peanuts" and built an expensive replacement in a poor location in south London. The sprawling 450-acre compound south of the Thames River, fixed on a hill and surrounded by a moat and other security measures, fulfills security requirements that embassies be isolated from other buildings and 100 feet away from roads to avoid vehicle bombs and other attacks following the al-Qaeda embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. Mr Johnson suggested that Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, had scuppered the chance of a visit from the U.S. president in an effort to draw a partisan line on the issue.
Calls for British Prime Minister Theresa May to cancel his visit amped up again in late November when Mr Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos shared by a British far-right group.
Trump said he was abandoning next month's trip because he did not like the location and cost of the new embassy building. May proclaimed the strength of the "most special relationship" between the two countries and the government extended an invitation for a state visit as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II.
"It is the most secure, hi-tech and environmentally friendly embassy that the United States has ever built", Johnson wrote in the LondonEvening Standard. In December, Johnson said he was looking forward to welcoming the president. But the date has yet to be set in the face of deep hostility to the American leader in Britain, prompting speculation it could be turned into a lower-profile trip focused on the opening of the new embassy. She suggested a formal visit could still, but offered no details.
Trump's roiling of diplomatic relations caused disruptions in the Western Hemisphere as well.
Many British politicians have voiced their opposition to Trump being granted a state visit, and say the invite should be recalled.
Londoners "have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here", Khan said. But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson blamed Khan and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for discouraging the US leader from coming.
The president, however, had become fed up with all the criticism and considered it an affront not only to his administration, but to his country, a White House official said on Friday. That message was echoed by David Lammy, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, who believed Trump was shaken by the prospect of being "met by millions of us out on the streets protesting".