DONALD TRUMP probably didn’t use the flimsy excuse “I’m washing my hair” when he decided not to come to the UK next month – but he has ducked out of the chance to open the new US embassy.
When Trump was elected US President, UK Prime Minister Theresa May invited him to come to the UK on a state visit – a formal visit which would have included meeting the Queen and much other fancy feting. Many objections were raised as soon as the invite was issued (and quickly accepted), but as Trump’s presidency has gone on protest has grown with each of Trump’s famous racist and sexist “gaffes”.
The UK Government responded to the groundswell of pressure by suggesting that Trump’s first visit might be somewhat short of a full state visit, which would be postponed rather than cancelled. Trump, however, insisted that he would not come to the UK to face protests and would only visit if he would be welcomed.
It had been thought that the opening of the new US embassy would give the authorities a chance to test the water. Trump could pop over for the occasion and perhaps have a cup of tea at no. 10 or something – without having to get into the detail of a formal visit. It’s not going to happen.
Formally, Trump has said that he doesn’t want to open the embassy because he doesn’t want to endorse Obama’s decision to build it, which he thinks was wrong. The decision to build the new embassy was actually taken in October 2008, by President George W Bush – but never mind the detail.
It is therefore US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who will be packing his bags and heading to the UK to cut the ribbon. The news will disappoint Woody Johnson, US ambassador to the UK, who had been hoping to greet the President. It will, however, delight millions of UK citizens who want nothing to do with a man who endorses the twitter utterings of followers of the far-right Britain First.
•One night only!
Trump comes to Greenwich!