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Debunked: Trump reasons for cancelling London visit

The Guardian logo The Guardian 12/01/2018 Jamie Grierson

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(Video provided by PA)

Donald Trump’s “reason” for cancelling his trip to London to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the new US embassy has been torn apart.

While few people believe that Trump’s decision to stay away has nothing to do with the prospect of having to face some of the UK’s biggest street protests, many have also debunked other claims in his tweet.

The Obama administration sold the embassy

Not quite. On the embassy’s UK website, a press release dated October 2008 – one month before Barack Obama was elected president and three months before his inauguration – details plans to move the embassy south of the river Thames, from Mayfair to Nine Elms, in Wandsworth.

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The decision to relocate the building was made by the Bush administration.

However, the final sale – to the Qatari royal family’s property company – was agreed and signed off by the US state department in 2009 when Obama was president.

The embassy was sold for peanuts

The Chancery building’s sale price was never disclosed, although in July 2000 it was estimated at £500m.

The new embassy has been built in an ‘off location’

The new US embassy in the Nine Elms district where world-leading architects have contributed to the aesthetic. © AFP/Getty Images The new US embassy in the Nine Elms district where world-leading architects have contributed to the aesthetic.

While the new location may lack the opulence of Mayfair, Trump might find much to his taste in Nine Elms. The 230-hectare district has been transformed from a once bleak landscape of depots and sorting offices to house some of London’s most expensive apartments and developments – about 30 of them.

Among the residential developments is neighbouring Embassy gardens, where a three-bedroom flat will set you back £1.7m. Within the regeneration area, architects including Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Richard Rogers are chipping in to the aesthetic; and the interiors of one block of flats were designed by Donatella Versace.

Perhaps the greatest symbol of extravagance within the district is the “sky pool”, a glass bottom bathing area suspended between two buildings. Throw in a food market, a new tube station and an enviable riverside view, and it could be concluded that the location is quite “on”.

The new embassy cost $1.2bn

Not quite. The building was widely reported as costing £750m, which is $1bn.

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