President Donald Trump confirmed late Thursday that he canceled a trip to London next month to help open the new U.S. Embassy there, saying he did not support the project and that former President Barack Obama crafted a “bad deal” to see it built.
“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,” Trump tweeted, before continuing: “Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
The process to move the embassy actually started during President George W. Bush’s tenure.
“This has been a long and careful process,” Robert Tuttle, former U.S. ambassador to Britain, said in October 2008. “In the end, we realized that the goal of a modern, secure and environmentally sustainable embassy could best be met by constructing a new facility.”
Trump’s comments come amid reports in British media that the White House was worried about mass protests during the president’s visit. Multiple outlets say Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may travel to the U.K. instead.
British Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump to visit the country last year during her sojourn to the White House after the U.S. election. But the specter of such a invitation has been increasingly contentious.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, an outspoken Trump critic, welcomed the trip’s cancellation.
“Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda,” Khan said in a tweet. “It seems he’s finally got that message.
Khan had previously called on May to cancel the invitation after Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos from a far-right Twitter account in November, accusing the U.S. president of promoting a “vile, extremist group,” The Associated Press reported at the time.
“Many Brits who love America and Americans will see this as a betrayal of the special relationship between our two countries,” Khan, who is London’s first Muslim mayor, said in a statement. “It beggars belief that the President of our closest ally doesn’t see that his support of this extremist group actively undermines the values of tolerance and diversity that makes Britain so great.”