President Trump has canceled a low-key visit to the UK to open a new US embassy in south-west London, amid concerns of mass protests against the President. Downing Street refused to confirm that the visit was canceled, but the White House indicated that Rex Tillerson would take Trump’s place.
The visit was to be a more low-key visit, touted as a ‘working visit’ for the president, involving Trump opening the new US embassy in Nine Elms and holding meetings with UK Prime Minister. The success of the visit was to provide an indication of whether Trump was ready for a state visit involving a meeting with the Queen.
Trump claimed that he was annoyed by the fact that the original embassy has been “sold for peanuts” and criticized the Obama administration for doing so despite the fact that the decision to move the site was taken in 2008 by President George W. Bush. The original site was moved due to security and environmental concerns with the original building due to become a luxury hotel.
The decision comes amid rumors of deteriorating relations between the US President and the UK government with Theresa May hoping for a swift deal with the USA after Britain leaves the European Union in 2019. However, relations hit a new low after Trump tweeted videos from extremist, far-right group Britain First and then publicly feuding with Theresa May for criticizing his actions.
There have also been concerns that the expected state visit, offered by Theresa May soon after Trump won the 2016 election, has still not been finalized. With massive protests expected and Trump expected to be barred from speaking at the Houses of Parliament, no date has been set although Woody Johnson, the US ambassador for the UK, insisted that Trump was certain to visit in 2018.
The new cancelation will continue to complicate efforts to finalize a state visit, however, with fears that Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks and his combative personality may cause embarrassment for the Royal Family. His anger at Obama being invited to Prince Harry’s wedding in early spring, instead of himself, has been a topic of much debate within the UK. His recent remarks about immigrants from “s***hole countries” is unlikely to ease concerns any time soon.
Both sides have been quick to downplay any issues with the ‘special relationship’, but the questions over the wisdom of a state visit to such a controversial figure will continue to grow.