Donald Trump scraps February visit to UK

Theresa May holding talks with Donald Trump in SeptemberImage copyright PA
Image caption Recent disagreements over US and UK policies are understood not to have played a part

Donald Trump has cancelled a planned visit to the UK in February, where he had been expected to open a new $1bn (£738m) US embassy in London.

In a tweet, the US president said he was not a “big fan” of the new embassy – which is moving from Mayfair to south London – saying it was a “bad deal”.

The old site was sold by Barack Obama’s administration for “peanuts”, he added.

The trip was not the controversial full state visit offered by Theresa May, for which no date has yet been set.

Downing Street declined to comment on Mr Trump’s cancellation of the trip.

BBC North America editor Jon Sopel said he suspected the possibility of protests on streets of London would have also weighed in the calculation.

The US embassy move was confirmed in October 2008, when President George W Bush was still in the White House.

However, Mr Trump blamed former president Mr Obama’s administration for selling “perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for peanuts”.

He said the new building in Vauxhall, south London, was in an “off location”, adding: “Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”

The BBC’s North America editor said February’s planned visit could have included meetings with Mrs May at Chequers or Downing Street and lunch with the Queen.

However, no firm date for the visit had ever been agreed, nor had the White House “nailed down the details of the trip”, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent James Landale added.

“There were lots of maybes, said one official, but nothing definite,” he said.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony may instead be hosted by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Mr Trump accepted the Queen’s invitation for an official state visit when the prime minister met him last year.

A petition calling for the invitation to be withdrawn was signed by more than 1.8m people, while the issue was also debated in parliament.

Reports in June suggested Mr Trump wanted to delay a potential visit amid concerns about large-scale protests.

However, the BBC understands Downing Street is considering options for the visit later in the year.

Speaking last month, US ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson told the BBC he “absolutely” expected Mr Trump to visit Britain in 2018.

During the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament last summer, there was no mention of a visit – although a Downing Street spokesman said an invitation had been “extended and accepted”.

Mrs May was the first foreign leader to meet Mr Trump after his inauguration when she visited the Oval Office in January 2017.

Typically during state visits, the government, the visiting government and the royal household agree on a detailed schedule where the Queen acts as the official host.

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Media captionA little bit of America south of the river

The cancellation comes after recent policy disagreements between the US and UK – including Mr Trump’s move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Mrs May said she disagreed with that US decision, which she deemed “unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region”.

And in November, Mr Trump clashed with Mrs May after she said it was “wrong” for the US president to share videos posted by the far-right group Britain First.

Mrs May more recently discussed Brexit and events in the Middle East in a pre-Christmas phone call with Mr Trump.


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