Donald Trump has renewed his criticism of the new US embassy building in London, calling its location “lousy” and “horrible” ahead of his planned visit to the UK in July.
Blaming his predecessors for the move from Grosvenor Square in central London to Nine Elms south of the Thames, the US president slammed it as a “Bush-Obama special”.
Trump, a billionaire property developer, cancelled a planned visit to London to open the embassy earlier this year. At the time, there was speculation his decision was because of fear of protests against him in the capital.
At a rally in Michigan on Saturday, he repeated his assertion it was because of his opposition to the embassy move.
“In the UK, in London, we had the best site in all of London. The best site,” he told his supporters. “Well, some genius said, ‘We’re gonna sell the site and then we’re going to take the money and build a new embassy.’ That sounds good, right, but you’ve got to have money left over if you do that, right?”
He said he believed – but would have to check – that officials sold the site for $250m (£181m). They spent all of that money, plus a lot more, to build a new embassy “in a lousy location”, he said.
“They go out and they buy a horrible location. And they build a new embassy. That’s the good news. The bad news is it cost over a billion dollars.”
Trump has previously complained the move to an “off location” had been a “bad deal”.
He told the rally: “By the way, they wanted me to cut the ribbon on the embassy and I said, ‘I’m not going. I don’t wanna do it.’ I said I’m not cutting that ribbon. I said I’m not going.’’
On a more optimistic note, he added: “Hey, hopefully we’ll have many years of success with that embassy.”
The old building, in the heart of Mayfair, was never owned outright by the US, which had a 999-year-lease, while the freehold is owned by Grosvenor Estates. The move to Vauxhall was reportedly because the old site was too small to install more modern security measures.
Trump, whose visit to the UK is planned for 13 July, prompted defiance from local residents after he first criticised the new location as “off” in January.
The leader of Wandsworth council, Ravi Govindia, said at the time the new embassy was part of a multimillion-pound regeneration of the area. “Tech giant Apple is moving its entire UK operation, so it’s clearly not an off location for them,” he said.
Steve Pinto, the chief executive of the Wandsworth chamber of commerce, said at the time that being “just a three- to five-minute ride by road into the centre of London”, the area was “very much ‘on site’”.
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