Donald Trump 'scraps plans to open United Kingdom embassy'

Demonstrators arrived at the Fabian conference to interrupt a speech by the Mayor of London
Credit SIMON DAWSON REUTERS

President Donald Trump's decision to forgo a visit to London to open a new U.S. embassy kindled doubts about his justification for staying away - even from his own nation's diplomats.

The embassy said Friday that the old building "had aged beyond its ability to be improved to current security and life safety standards without extensive investment in infrastructure that would require appropriated dollars".

In 2008, when George W. Bush was president, the United States signed a conditional agreement to acquire a site for the construction of a new embassy in the Nine Elms area of Wandsworth, southwest London.

Asked about the PM's views on south London after the president described the embassy's new site as an "off location", the Number 10 spokesman said: "I think Vauxhall is a vibrant and important part of London and home to many businesses".

The current ambassador, Robert "Woody" Johnson, said the change was necessary even though the US had been linked to Grosvenor Square for more than 200 years.

Johnson, a Trump appointee, also said the new embassy was entirely paid for by the sale of other London properties and "did not cost the USA taxpayer a cent".

Under domestic pressure, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Trump's re-tweeting was wrong, triggering the latter's retort demanding her not to focus on him, but on anti-terrorism efforts in her own nation.

But a full-blown state visit replete with golden carriages and pomp has been deferred amid the threat of huge anti-Trump protests. In December, Johnson said he was looking forward to welcoming the president.

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Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had rejected suggestions that now was not the time for a state visit.

The snub, reported by the Daily Mail, would be the second blow to Mr Trump and the UK's relationship.

MPs have repeatedly called for the offer of a state visit for the US President to be withdrawn following his crackdown on immigration from majority-Muslim countries and promotion of far-right group Britain First on Twitter.

Trump's cancellation was met with humour on social media, with parodies of the president's tweet trending on Twitter.

Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda.

David Lammy, a Labour party lawmaker, believed Trump was shaken by the prospect of being " met by millions of us out on the streets protesting". But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson blamed Khan and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for discouraging the USA leader from coming.

"It seems he's finally got that message", Khan tweeted. "We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed-up, pompous popinjay in City Hall".

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