The real time 24 hours a day, seven days a week car crash that is the presidency of Donald John Trump has mostly - thankfully - not impacted too much on the lives of ordinary Brits. It would have done next month, with a visit to London so The Donald could officially open the new US Embassy at Battersea, but Trump is of less than perfect courage, and the prospect of a less than adulatory reception has scared him off.
Donald, where's your hairspray?
So today has come his excuse, demonstrating that, when it comes to lying, he is in a league yet higher than our own Political Establishment. “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!”
There was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one problem with this idea - it was bollocks. Trump would have faced demonstrations everywhere he went. London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has already registered his displeasure at the prospect of The Donald visiting. So former Labour leader Ed Miliband had no hesitation in telling him “Nope, it’s because nobody wanted you to come. And you got the message”.
It got worse: Jeremy Benware pointed out “The decision to move the embassy from Grosvenor Square to Nine Elms was made in 2008 under George W. Bush, not Obama. It would have been impossible to retrofit the aging concrete building with the security measures needed, officials said at the time”. Eero Saarinen’s design is now Grade II listed, so updating could have been impossibly expensive. And it got worse still.
Michael Moran weighed in: “What have we learned this morning? 1. The embassy was not sold, because the US didn't own it … 2. The decision to move was taken before Obama took office … 3. The chump in the White House is even less well-informed than we previously thought”. Moreover, the sale of the lease on the old embassy site is thought to have netted the USA around £500 million - hardly “peanuts”.
And as for the site south of the river, BBC presenter (yn Llundain) Huw Edwards looked at the new building and concluded “If this is [an] ‘off location’, I’ll take it” (the new embassy, already in use, is at lower middle of the photo). There is even a new Tube link - an extension to the Northern Line, giving swift access to the West End - being built to serve the area. Trump is just making lame excuses. And one US President concurs.
“‘He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.’ -- Benjamin Franklin” observed, er, none other than Donald Trump, but in 2014, before he decided to run for the Presidency. He’s a coward, frightened to face any reception that is not falling over itself to pay homage to his supposed greatness. He’s a liar, unable to get his facts straight before shooting his mouth off. So thank God he’s not over here too.