Sunday 21 October 2018

Donald Trump cancels trip to London over 'bad deal'

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he meets with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he meets with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

US president Donald Trump has confirmed he will not travel to the UK to open the new American embassy.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Trump said he thought the embassy's move from Grosvenor Square to Nine Elms, south London, was a "bad deal".

He wrote: "Reason I cancelled 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!"

The United States announced plans to move from its current embassy building in Mayfair in 2008 and the new building will open on January 16.

On the embassy web page about the project, it said: "The project has been funded entirely by the proceeds of the sale of other US Government properties in London, not through appropriated funds."

Mr Trump's decision not to come to the country comes despite British Prime Minister Theresa May saying that a future visit was still on the cards last week.

Mrs May controversially extended the offer of a state visit when she became the first world leader to meet Mr Trump in the White House following his inauguration last year.

Since then, however, the president has indicated he does not want to take up the invitation if he is going to face mass demonstrations.

Last month, the White House said it would announce details "soon" of Mr Trump's proposed visit to the UK.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "Our position is that an offer for a state visit has been extended and accepted."

Mrs May controversially extended the offer of a state visit - officially on behalf of the Queen - when she became the first world leader to meet Mr Trump in the White House following his inauguration last year.

Since then, however, the president has indicated he does not want to take up the invitation if he is going to face mass demonstrations and it had been expected he could make a low-key working visit rather than a trip which involved all the trappings of a state occasion.

Last month, the White House said it would announce details "soon" of Mr Trump's proposed visit to the UK.

In reply to Mr Trump's tweet, former Labour leader Ed Miliband posted: "Nope it's because nobody wanted you to come. And you got the message."

Mrs May and Mr Trump fell out spectacularly in November over his retweeting of anti-Muslim videos posted online by the deputy leader of the far-right Britain First group, Jayda Fransen.

At the time, the PM said Mr Trump was "wrong" to retweet the videos, and the US president hit back at Mrs May on Twitter by telling her to focus on "destructive radical Islamic terrorism" in the UK, rather than on him.

Mr Trump's decision to cancel his trip to London came after he yesterday expressed frustration at the United States’ immigration policy, asking a White House gathering of politicians why the US accepted people from “shithole countries” and couldn’t have more people from countries like Norway.

Mr Trump convened yesterday’s meeting to discuss reforming immigration policy, and one of the politicians inside the Oval Office suggested that a deal could be reached if Mr Trump agreed to restore protection for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” the president responded, according to two people who spoke to ‘The Washington Post’. The paper said he was referring to African countries and Haiti.

He then reportedly suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met on Wednesday.

His remarks reportedly left the assembled politicians “taken aback”, the paper said, with Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator for South Carolina, and Richard Durbin, Democratic senator for Illinois, among those in the room.

The two were reportedly surprised to be joined by immigration hardliners Bob Goodlatte, a Republican congressman for Virginia, and Tom Cotton, senator for Arkansas.

The meeting was impromptu and came after phone calls on yesterday morning, Capitol Hill aides said.

They had raised the issue of reducing the visa lottery, and restoring protections for countries that have been removed from the temporary protected status programme, in return for an additional $1.5bn (€1.24) for a border wall.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on Mr Trump’s remarks.

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