News Analysis: Trump says cancels London trip, experts suggest fear of mass protests

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by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump canceled his trip to Britain, amid what experts say are fears that locals will mount massive protests, U.S. experts told Xinhua.

On Thursday night, Trump tweeted that he would cancel next month's trip to London, writing that he disagreed with what the former administration did regarding the U.S. embassy there.

"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!" Trump posted on social media platform Twitter.

But experts believe that's not the real reason for the cancellation. Rather, experts believe that Trump could be met in London by massive protests denouncing the outspoken U.S. president for what opponents believe as a figure who sows divisiveness.

"The British trip was shaping up as a visit that likely would generate mass protests and large demonstrations," Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

"I doubt that President Trump wanted to expose himself to that. He prefers places where there is lots of pageantry and no street protests. That allows him to talk about how popular he is and how nice the public response has been. He was not going to get that kind of reception in London, which I believe led him to cancel that trip," West said.

Indeed, many in London believe the U.S. president anticipated a horde of protesters would meet him there, as the billionaire-turned-politician has elicited much negative energy among many liberal groups in London, due to a perception -- whether true or not -- that he has discriminated against Muslims and Hispanics.

London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, who is no fan of Trump, expressed belief, via Twitter, that Trump got the message that he's not welcome in the capital.

"It seems he's finally got that message," Khan tweeted.

"Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda. It seems he's finally got that message," the London mayor tweeted.

Labor party lawmaker David Lammy said that the bombastic billionaire was unnerved by the possibility of being "met by millions of us out on the streets protesting."


Still, the cancellation is highly unlikely to impact Washington's relations with London, as the two are longtime allies with similar foreign policies which both benefit from working together, experts said.

"There won't be any impact on U.S.-UK relations," West said.

"The two countries remain very close in their foreign policies and work together closely. That is not likely to change at any point in the foreseeable future," West said.

Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow on foreign policy at the research organization Brookings Institution, told Xinhua that clearly, Trump is unlikely ever to be liked in Britain.

"That said, U.S.-UK relations have been through worse, and structurally I don't see huge problems (between the two allies)," he said.

Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, agreed that Trump canceled the trip likely because his arrival in London would be spoiled by protests by the British public.

He even reckoned that Trump might believe his trip would put pressure on British politicians to distance themselves from himself, the president of Britain's closest ally.

"Beyond the disagreements between leaders and the optics of this cancellation, U.S.-UK relations continue to remain strong - largely because there are a wide range of institutional ties between the nations in military cooperation, intelligence, economics, and commerce that operate as normal despite the political storms that may arise," Mahaffee said.

On Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refuted the speculation that the trip Trump canceled was an intended lower profile version of a state visit to Britain.

Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump for a state visit to Britain one year ago, with the date yet to be set amid hostilities to Trump in Britain.

The United States is "still working with our UK allies to find a date for a visit for the invitation that was offered and accepted," said Sanders. Enditem

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