President Donald Trump has cancelled his working visit to the UK that was scheduled to take place next month.
Over the last year, the subject of the Very-Stable-Genius-in-Chief’s first official visit to Britain has been handled rather awkwardly. The visit in February had not even been confirmed publicly until Trump, as he so often does, took some time out from defending his mental state to cancel via Twitter.
In his like, really smartest move since looking directly into the solar eclipse, he tweeted: “Reason I canceled 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!”
Atrocious grammar aside, there is a lot to unpack in this statement.
Firstly, nothing says “I’m fine” quite like signing off diplomatic messages on Twitter with exclamation marks and capital letters, right?
Secondly, it’s hard not to cringe for Theresa May, who has spent the last year appeasing Trump, and then having to deal with him dumping her and the country as a whole via social media as Trump changes his relationship status to “it’s complicated” in front of the entire world.
Thirdly, Trump’s statement is, as ever, littered with inaccuracies. While it is true that the US Embassy is being relocated from Mayfair to Vauxhall, George W Bush actually agreed the move in 2008 before Barack Obama took office. Within a short distance from Parliament and overlooking the iconic River Thames, the new spot is certainly not “off location”. It is easy to imagine Trump, sweaty, orange and misshapen, surveying the London edition of Monopoly and scattering his counters across the table in fury at the realisation that Mayfair, not Vauxhall, features on the board.
But those who are in possession of a more contemporary knowledge of London will know that the average house price in Vauxhall is almost £1m, four times the UK average. Yet “off location” is perhaps not too damning a critique from the man who just described parts of Africa and Haiti as “shithole countries”.
The inconsistencies in Trump’s version of events have led many to suspect that this is all merely a cover story. The hashtag #ICancelledMyTripToLondon quickly began to trend worldwide, with Twitter users sharing their most ridiculous reasons for calling off a trip.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Trump’s long-time adversary, was quick to say what most people were thinking. Khan stated that Trump’s cancellation proved that he has “got the message” that Londoners were planning “mass peaceful protests” as his views and policies represent the “polar opposite” of the city’s values. This prompted Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson — yes him, the man who recently talked about whisky exports in a Sikh temple, tried to recite a colonial poem in a Myanmar temple, once told the Chinese that Britain invented ping-pong and seems determined to destroy the UK’s relationship with the EU— to accuse Khan of endangering Britain’s national interests.
It’s hard not to agree with Khan’s assessment. In January 2017, over 1.8 million people signed a petition urging the UK Government to ban him from visiting London. In December 2017, anti-Trump campaigners claimed that a million people would march in protest when he does land in the UK. Even Theresa May must be slightly relieved.
As one of the most diverse cities in the world – a city which unanimously voted to remain in the EU and swung even further to the left in last year’s general election – it is hard to think of a worse place for Trump to visit. London saw one of the largest Woman’s March outside of the US, and also saw thousands march against Trump’s proposed Muslim travel ban.
This is the city that recoiled in disgust when Trump, within minutes of last summer’s horrific terror attacks, tried to spin the incidents to fit his xenophobic agenda. The same city that rallied around the Muslim community just weeks later when a terrorist ploughed a van into pedestrians outside a mosque in Finsbury Park.
Londoners will be ready to protest peacefully against Trump whenever he decides to appear, and we will showcase the passion, wit, creativity and optimism that defines this city, and indeed Britain. Our beliefs and solidarity will last long after his presidency is a distant memory.
He might not be very stable, or anything close to a genius, but Trump’s decision to abandon this visit might be his most perceptive move yet.
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