www.paywallnews.com Only News Behind Paywalls
The Age / News - Politics

'Pompous popinjay': Boris Johnson furious after Trump cancels visit

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson blamed Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan for Donald Trump's decision to abandon a visit to London, as he vowed not to let the Labour leader and London mayor put the "crucial relationship at risk."


London: Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has blamed Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan for US President Donald Trump's decision to abandon a visit to London, as he vowed not to let the Labour leader and London mayor put the "crucial relationship at risk."

Trump-critics and Brexit opponents seized on the President's announcement via a tweet, to say the breakdown showed there was no guarantee the US and UK would strike a quick trade deal after Brexit, as supporters of the 'leave' campaign have insisted. 

Trump cancels trip to Britain

US President Donald Trump sights his disapproval of the new location of the US embassy as a reason to cancel what would have been his first official visit to the United Kingdom.

Mr Trump announced on Twitter that his London trip, originally planned for 2017, was cancelled, citing the move of the the US embassy from its prestigious Mayfair location to the regenerated Battersea area south of the river Thames, which he wrongly attributed to the Obama administration, as his reason.

The decision to move from Grosvenor Square was made when George W. Bush was in the White House and was announced by the then Ambassador Robert Tuttle, a Bush appointee. 

London's first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan, who Mr Trump has personally targeted over the city's terrorist attacks, said that the president's visit would have "without doubt been met by mass peaceful protests."

"It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city's values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance," Khan said on Facebook.

"This just reinforces what a mistake it was for Theresa May to rush and extend an invitation of a state visit in the first place. Let's hope that Donald Trump also revisits the pursuit of his divisive agenda."

But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hit back, calling his successor at City Hall a "pompous popinjay" for putting one of the UK's most important relationships at risk.

Sadiq Khan, London mayor said Trump's visit would have "without doubt been met by mass peaceful protests." Photo: Bloomberg

The US is the biggest single investor in the UK - yet Khan & Corbyn seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk. We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall.

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 12, 2018

Johnson has in the past defended Khan against Trump's personal attacks but insisted Trump's visit would go ahead. A month ago, the US ambassador to Britain, Woody Johnson, told the BBC's Radio 4 Today program: "absolutely, I think he will come."

President Donald Trump said he would not visit the UK because he didn't like the new location of the new US embassy. Photo: AP

Trump was expected to cut the ribbon the Nine Elms embassy in February but that task is now anticipated to fall to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. 

Trump's visit spares May a headache

Trump's visit will spare British prime minister Theresa May a headache in the short-term. She was the first leader to visit Trump in the White House after his inauguration almost a year ago, when she issued him an invitation for a state visit which would have included an audience with the Queen.

'Pompous popinjay': UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson has accused anti-Trump politicians of jeopardising UK-US trade relations.  Photo: Bloomberg

That was met with a backlash at home. Almost two million people signed a petition calling for the visit to be cancelled, forcing a debate in parliament. That culminated in the Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, declaring that Trump would not be allowed to address the parliament from Westminster Hall, as past presidents including Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan have done.

May and Trump have previously talked up the prospect of the UK and US striking a trade deal once Britain leaves the EU. The ability to strike trade deals independently of the EU was one of the key arguments put forward by the 'leave' campaign during the referendum in 2016. But 'remain' supporters fear any trade deal will be struck in haste to prove Brexit is a success and leave Britain compromised. 

Labour MP Chukka Umuma, a campaigner with the pressure group Open Britain, said Trump's "dummy spit" showed the US would be an unreliable partner for as long as Trump was president.

"The current president of the United States is a protectionist who runs scared of debate and protest," he said.

"A man who is unwilling to open his own Embassy in this country is never going to open the door to a properly beneficial trade deal with the UK. It is neither politically astute nor economically sensible to abandon our largest trading partner and instead go cap in hand to a capricious demagogue."

In 2016, the US was the UK's largest customer, buying 16 per cent of the country's exports, valued at £36 billion ($62 billion). 

Follow Latika Bourke on Facebook

ADS