Citing fake excuse Trump cancels UK visit

President Donald Trump has cancelled a visit to the UK that had been planned for next month, blaming it on Barack Obama (in a factually incorrect tweet). Reactions in the UK had caused ructions between the Foreign Secretary and the Mayor of London, and applause from a number of Labour MPs.

It is claimed that Trump is avoiding protests that had been promised.

The Telegraph: Donald Trump cancels UK visit, blaming Barack Obama for a ‘bad embassy deal’, as Sadiq Khan says he ‘finally got the message’

US president Donald Trump has confirmed he will not travel to the UK to open the new American embassy next month, blaming the decision to relocate the building to an “off location”.

Hitting out at former US leader Barack Obama, Mr Trump wrote on Twitter early on Friday that he thought the embassy’s move from Grosvenor Square in the prestigious Mayfair district of central London to Nine Elms, south of the Thames, in a 1.2 billion dollar (£886 million) project was a “bad deal”.

So if it was something already known why did Trump agree to open the embassy in the first place?

In December, US Ambassador Woody Johnson said he was looking forward to welcoming the president when he visited, adding: “I think he will be very impressed with this building and the people who occupy it.”

Mr Trump’s decision not to head across the Atlantic comes despite Mrs May saying that a future visit was still on the cards last week.

In typical fashion Trump made his (factually incorrect) excuse  via Twitter.

Seems like he is using Obama as a scapegoat. And getting things wrong.

Despite Mr Trump publicly blaming his predecessor Obama, the US announced its plans to move to the new embassy site in October 2008 – when George W Bush was in the White House. The new building will open on January 16.

It is being widely surmised that Trump wants to avoid protests promised during his visit.

Mrs May controversially extended the offer of a state visit – officially on behalf of the Queen – when she became the first world leader to meet Mr Trump in the White House following his inauguration last year.

Since then, however, the president has indicated he does not want to take up the invitation if he is going to face mass demonstrations and it had been expected he could make a low-key working visit rather than a trip which involved all the trappings of a state occasion.

Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, welcomed the decision and claimed it showed Mr Trump had “got the message” that he would not be welcome in the capital.

But Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, attacked Mr Khan’s response and accused him and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, of putting the special relationship “at risk”.

Mr Johnson described Mr Khan as a “puffed up pompous popinjay”.

But others also applauded the visit backflip by Trump.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Jo Swinson said: “News that Trump has thrown his toys out of the pram and cancelled his trip to the UK will be welcomed by all of us who reject his abhorrent views.

“But it’s a disappointing sign of how weak May’s leadership is that she wasn’t brave enough to call the visit off herself.

“The Prime Minister should be ashamed that she was so keen to roll out the red carpet to a man who spreads hate and division at every turn, and goes out of his way to undermine British values.”

Ex Labour leader Ed Miliband:

Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy:

Labour MP Stephen Doughty:

Chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat:

“While I think it’s a shame, I think – if I’m honest – it more reflects the fact that other people criticise in French, Italian, Korean and other languages and we criticise in English, and it’s much easier for him to read English.”

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage:

“It is disappointing. He has been to countries all over the world and yet he has not been to the one with whom he is closest.

“I would say it is disappointing. Maybe, just maybe, Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party planning mass protests, maybe those optics he didn’t like the look of.”

Whatever triggered the late withdrawal it has highlighted the unpredictability of Trump, reinforced his reputation for making fake excuses, and caused some division in the UK.

Fox News reported on this briefly – Trump: London visit canceled over Obama administration decision

President Trump has cancelled plans to visit the United Kingdom next month, according to reports out of London on Thursday.

He later blamed a move by former president Obama for the decision to cancel.

That reported quoted Trump’s tweet blaming Obama, but did not mention that the decision to move the US embassy was made while GW Bush was president.

The Nation: interview with Boris Johnson

I’m not sure what the point of his visit was.  He isn’t in a position to commit to anything on NZ trade with the UK, nor with visa conditions.

So Owen doesn’t bother spending long on NZ related issues and goes on the the Middle East, arms supplies to Saudi Arabia and the civil war in Yemen.

That’s a novel approach – that should sort things out pretty quickly.

TRP Adviser 28 July 2017

This week we learned many things.

Boris Johnson is not a complete buffoon, the Greens may come to regret Metiria Turei’s confession and one man party Peter Dunne may be over and out in Ohariu.

The likely next leader of the UK Conservative party has been here for a brief visit. Boris Johnson managed to complete the trip without any major gaffes, though comparing a kiwi hongi to a Gorbals kiss might be considered offensive by some here and by some North of Hadrian’s wall.

The perceived wisdom in the UK is that Johnson is biding his time, waiting for the inevitable coup against Theresa May to begin and trusting that there will be a knock on the door as the hopeful party calls on him to lead at their time of need.

I’m not so sure.

Leading a Government that is going to limp along until the next election is an unenviable task. Whether that vote is called early or the Tory/DUP Government lasts the full term, whoever leads the Conservatives to the polls can expect to lose.

I think that if asked, Johnson will say ‘No, thanks’. It’s all too much like hard work and swanning around the world being witty with the locals is much more fun.

Metiria Turei’s confession to an easily understandable and perfectly forgivable benefit rort is still in the headlines, well past the usual news cycle of a day or two.

I reckon it marks the high tide in the Green’s polling. It’ll be all down hill from here.

It won’t affect their die hard voters, but it will have an impact on waverers in the middle who might have been tempted to go green. If there is one thing about the New Zealand middle class that really stands out, it’s a broad streak of sanctimony.

They’ll forgive the likes of Key and English for their many, many rorts because that was just business. But a beneficiary who bends the rules to survive? To the workhouse with her!

I hear from usually reliable sources that Peter Dunne is in big trouble in Ohariu.

Labour have a near perfect candidate for the seat in former police union boss Greg O’Connor. Ohariu is a fairly conservative, middle of the road electorate and both Dunne and O’Connor fit that mold.

O’Connor has the advantage of being brand spanking new and earnestly keen. Too keen, in fact, having been snapped putting up election signs way too early.

That was an embarrassing start for the Labour candidate, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt him in the electorate. I’m told he has built up a convincing polling lead over Dunne already.

And that’s why Bill English felt the need to publicly tout for Peter Dunne. No coy cup of tea, this time. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

National know they are going to need every scrap of support they can get if they are to form the next Government without having to grovel to grumpy old uncle Winston.

Ohariu could be the seat that decides the very nature of the next Government.

Boris Johnson shows up

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson showed up in New Zealand for a couple of days. Media focussed on his showmanship, but most of the serious stuff will have been done privately.

NZ Herald has little of substance in British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson enjoys ‘beautiful’ hongi during visit to Kaikoura

Barry Soper goes a bit deeper in Don’t be fooled by Boris Johnson’s demeanou

Boris’ thinking when it comes to this country is important, given that he’s widely tipped to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister if she she’s rolled, which is very much on the cards following her recent disastrous election effort where her majority became a minority. And if that does happen, it’s being speculated the OE right of passage to the UK for young kiwis could again become a reality, in view of the right noises being made about that by Johnson when he was London’s Mayor.

One of the big issues for Kiwis – their London OE.

But in reality noise is all it’s likely to be considering Britain’s anti immigration and pro nationalist stance exemplified by Brexit, before and since, which was championed right from the start by the Foreign Secretary.

So nothing much of substance to see here?

Tracey Watkins: Boris Johnson comes bearing laughs, but what about gifts?

His visit is largely a flag waving one – it’s supposed to demonstrate that the Brits are back after a near absence of importance in the region in recent decades.

It’s also a demonstration to the domestic audience back home that Britain is reconnecting with the Commonwealth to fill the vacuum left by Brexit.

It’s a measure of how far Britain’s influence in the region has waned, however, that Johnson’s counterpart, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, made it to New Zealand first.

Of the two, it’s no mystery which of their visits is more significant for New Zealand. Tillerson’s presence here so early in the life of the Trump administration was a significant and important signal about the state of relations between New Zealand and the US.

Johnson’s visit? Not so much. It’s a given that as a Commonwealth country we would expect relations to be warm between our two countries – though Britain’s commitment has waxed and waned since it joined the European Union.

When did a British Foreign Secretary last visit New Zealand?

In fact, were it not for Johnson’s colourful and flamboyant personality, his visit would merit about as much attention as his predecessors, William Hague in 2013 and Philip Hammond in 2015.

I don’t remember those visits.

But even if Johnson may not be bearing many gifts on his visit downunder, we can enjoy the theatre.

That probably suits the media.

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.


BBC: No G7 deal on Russia sanctions over Syria

The UK proposal fails to win support, with the US secretary of state now in Moscow for talks.

BBC: Syria: Boris Johnson denies defeat over sanctions call

The UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has denied he suffered a “defeat” after the G7 group of nations rejected his proposal for sanctions against Russia.

The two-day meeting of foreign ministers was aimed at hammering out a unified approach to Syria before the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went to Moscow.

The plan was put forward at the G7 summit in Italy in the wake of a deadly chemical attack the countries say was carried out by Moscow’s ally, Syria.

Italy’s foreign minister said the group did not want to back Russia into a corner and preferred dialogue.

The Lib Dem leader Tim Farron called it a “failure of British diplomacy”.

Mr Johnson denied he had suffered a defeat, saying there was support for sanctions if further evidence of the chemical attack were gathered.

One thing that did appear to unite the group was the future of Mr Assad.

Mr Tillerson summed it up, saying: “It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.


The Syrian missile attacks have blown up UK-Russian relations.

Guardian: Russia hits back at UK and Boris Johnson over cancelled Moscow visit

Russian officials have launched a scathing attack on the UK over Boris Johnson’s decision to cancel an upcoming trip to Moscow due to increased tensions about Syria, threatening to bring relations to a new low.

The foreign secretary faced criticism at home and abroad on Sunday for postponing the visit, prompting his allies to say critics had put “polls and politics above sorting out a civil war”.

With the repercussions continuing from last week’s chemical weapons attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhun and a retaliatory US strike on a Syrian government airbase, the Russian foreign ministry and embassy in London belittled Britain’s role in the crisis.

The move showed a “fundamental misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of the events in Syria, Russia’s efforts to settle that crisis and the general objectives of diplomacy”, the Russian foreign ministry said. “The decision to call off Johnson’s visit to Moscow confirms once again doubts in the presence of added value in speaking to the UK, which does not have its own position on the majority of present-day issues, nor does it have real influence on the course of international affairs, as it remains ‘in the shadow’ of its strategic partners. We do not feel that we need dialogue with London any more than it does.”

Russia’s embassy in London, meanwhile, said it was “deplorable” that Johnson felt unable to meet his counterpart Sergei Lavrov. It tweeted mocking polls, including one that sought views on Donald Trump “as a wartime leader and Johnson as his lieutenant”.

Not a good sign.

A war of tweets is a new way to carry out international insults diplomacy – Trump already has a legacy.

Boris’s bid bumbled and burned

Boris Johnson’s bid to become Conservative leader and British Prime Minister has been badly bumbled and has now crashed and burned.

The Mirror has reported that Johnson has not put himself forward as a candidate.

Live: Boris Johnson has ‘ripped the Tory Party apart’ storms Lord Heseltine after he quits leadership race

It is just one extraordinary week since voters went to the polls in the EU referendum – and the twists keep on coming.

Five Tory MPs put themselves forward to be the leader ahead of the noon deadline – but Boris Johnson is NOT among them.

Lord Heseltine launched an astonishing attack on Boris for “leaving the battlefield”after his departure but others launched furious rants at Michael Gove, who stabbed his pal in the back to take his place on the ballot.

And Michael Gove has dumped on Johnson and is standing for the top job himself.

BBC: Michael Gove: Boris Johnson wasn’t up to the job

Michael Gove has said he chose to run for the Conservative Party leadership after deciding “reluctantly but firmly” that Boris Johnson was not capable of uniting the party or the country.

“It had to fall to someone else… I felt it had to fall to me,” he said.

The justice secretary was set to back his fellow Leave campaigner. Mr Johnson pulled out after Mr Gove’s switch.

In an interview with the BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Gove, explaining his reasons for standing, said following last week’s Brexit result he felt the country needed a leader “who believed heart and soul in leaving the European Union”.

“I also believed we needed someone who would be able to build a team, lead and unite. I hoped that person would be Boris Johnson,” he said.

But he added: “I came in the last few days reluctantly and firmly to the conclusion that while Boris has great attributes he was not capable of uniting that team and leading the party and the country in the way that I would have hoped.”

Johnson was always going to be a contentious candidate.

The Mirror suggests that Johnson effectively brought his bid to an end with one self-inflicted sentence in his Daily Telegraph column:

British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down.

The Mirror says:

This single sentence may have killed Boris Johnson’s leadership bid.

The former London mayor angered Brexiters by performing what appeared to be a massive U-turn on Monday.

After weeks of hardline campaigning about migration in the EU referendum, he wrote [the above sentence].

He was forced to backtrack on it, with friends telling the Times it was written too quickly and he would make clear he wanted to crack down on free movement.

But by that point the damage may already have been done.

So Boris’s leadership ambitions are over. As Martin Kettle writes at The Guardian:

Boris Johnson would have been a disaster. Bring on Theresa May

Once again the Conservative party has proved why it has a PhD qualification in political ruthlessness, while at the same time the Labour party is struggling to even manage a GCSE retake. When most of us were cleaning our teeth this morning, Boris Johnson was still the bookies’ favourite to win the Tory leadership and succeed David Cameron as prime minister.

Yet by lunchtime Johnson was a political corpse with Michael Gove’s lethal stiletto between his substantial shoulder blades.

The Johnson bubble was always going to burst. Some of us said this long ago. The only question was whether it happened before or after his leadership bid. Luckily for the Tory party, they made it happen now.

Everything about the supposed public appetite for Johnson as leader of the nation was potentially damaging for Johnson himself, for the Tory party, for the country and for politics. He would have been a disaster.

Where does one start? With the flawed character himself, perhaps. All politicians have ego, but Johnson is a narcissist. He’s a lightweight, a first-degree self-publicist with a second-rate mind. He has a shabby back story, with the truth, with details, with responsibility and with women, any one of which could have ruined his prime ministership if he had been allowed to get that far, and may have had something to do with what happened to him on his way to work.

So Kettle isn’t a Johnson fan.

Regardless, Johnson is out of the contest to take over leadership of the Conservatives and the UK.

No general election if Boris becomes leader

While the UK Labour Party self implodes in fear of an early election many believe Jeremy Corbyn cannot win the Guardian reports that if Boris Johnson takes over the leadership of the Conservative Party he would not call for an immediate general election.

That puts David Cameron in an interesting position.

No Brexit general election if Boris Johnson wins Tory leadership

Source in former London mayor’s team says he does not believe he needs a new mandate to start negotiating EU exit

Boris Johnson will not call an immediate general election if he wins the Conservative party leadership election and takes over as prime minister, it is understood.

A source in Johnson’s team said the former London mayor, who has been busy seeking the support of high-profile women in the cabinet, believed the result of last week’s referendum was sufficient for him to start negotiating an exit from the EU without seeking a new mandate.

But Johnson has to win the leadership first. He is gathering support.

MPs say Elizabeth Truss, the environment secretary, could throw her weight behind Johnson in the coming days, and that he has reached out to Amber Rudd, the energy secretary.

Rudd is also thought to be open to the idea of backing Johnson, despite clashing with him during the referendum campaign. In a televised debate, she described him as the “life and soul of the party, but he’s not the man you want driving you home at the end of the night”.

Johnson wants to demonstrate he can attract the support of remain campaigners and the liberal wing of the party, with early support from the skills minister, Nick Boles.

However there are other contenders and there could be a strong ‘not Boris’ resistance.

But a number of female MPs, including those passionate about the party’s modernising agenda, have revealed they plan to back Theresa May’s campaign.

One politician described May, the home secretary and remain supporter, as someone with the “work ethic of Thatcher” and said she was one of the few people with enough authority to carry the country into Brexit negotiations. Another said they never thought they would be taking her side, but were desperate to block a “Johnson coronation”.

There hasn’t been long for contenders to consider their chances and round up support – less than a week.

The leadership contest, which closes for nominations on Thursday, has triggered a frantic atmosphere, with MPs rushing around trying to secure the support of colleagues for their preferred candidate. May supporters are each trying to speak to a number of designated MPs in a satellite operation.

Several cabinet ministers are insisting they have still to make up their mind, with some saying they will seek meetings with candidates before deciding.

Rumours swirling around Westminster suggest Andrea Leadsom, the energy minister who campaigned to leave the EU, could be a key figure who might herself run, but is also being courted by various candidates including May.

One list appeared to suggest the home secretary had the edge with numbers, followed by Johnson, but also revealed support for both Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, who is considering her position, and Crabb.

Former defence secretary Liam Fox has already confirmed himself as a candidate, while Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is also canvassing support.

The chancellor, George Osborne, ruled himself out, saying it was clear he could not provide the unity the party needed.

The Conservative aim is to have a new Prime Minister by 2 September. That’s quite a while to have the leadership of the country in limbo in one of the most difficult times for the UK in the last half century.

Whoever ends up in No 10 will be faced with the task of extracting the UK from the EU, after Cameron said he would not initiate the process before handing over the reins, despite pressure from Brussels for a swift departure.

Extracting the UK from the EU will be the easy part. What happens after that will be a huge challenge for whoever becomes the new Prime Minister and whichever party wins an election that may or may not be held.

Someone on Twitter yesterday said that the UK was like a dog that had been barking at passing cars for a years and had finally caught hold of a bumper bar – and has no idea what to do with it.

‘Stop Boris’ Conservative conflagration

While the British Labour Party teeters on the edge of self destruction the Conservatives seem to be as riven by anger and opportunism.

The Guardian writes Tories scramble to ‘Stop Boris’

Leadership crises dominate as Britain reels from decision to leave the EU

Most people – and newspapers – went to bed on Saturday night thinking (if this is the kind of thing they think about on a Saturday night) about divisions in the Conservative party, as MPs jostle to take over from David Cameron at No 10. “Tories at war” screeched the Sunday Telegraph front page.

The “Stop Boris” camp could be grouping around home secretary Theresa May.

Or education secretary Nicky Morgan, writing in the Sunday Times today about the need to “heal divided communities and to build a truly United Kingdom”.

Or work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb, who writes in the Sunday Telegraphabout the need to “mend our divided society”.

Or even George Osborne, who’s presumably hoping colleagues will have forgotten about the “punishment budget” falling-out.

It looks like a massive mess.

Nick Cohen in the Observer on Boris Johnson and Michael Gove:

The media do not damn themselves, so I am speaking out of turn when I say that if you think rule by professional politicians is bad wait until journalist politicians take over. Johnson and Gove are the worst journalist politicians you can imagine …

Never has a revolution in Britain’s position in the world been advocated with such carelessness. The Leave campaign has no plan. And that is not just because there was a shamefully under-explored division between the bulk of Brexit voters who wanted the strong welfare state and solid communities of their youth and the leaders of the campaign who wanted Britain to become an offshore tax haven.

Vote Leave did not know how to resolve difficulties with Scotland, Ireland, the refugee camp at Calais, and a thousand other problems, and did not want to know either.

It doesn’t sound like anyone was prepared for what might happen after the referendum.

Donald and Boris?

Peter Dunne pointed out:

Imagine Boris in No 10 & Trump in the White House! Could be just a few months away

He linked to:

The headline and article clarifies that:

Ken Clarke: Boris Johnson ‘is just a nicer Donald Trump’ and should ‘go away for a bit’

Boris Johnson was likened to Donald Trump and told to “go away for a bit” as he came under fire from Tory veteran Ken Clarke.

The former chancellor said Mr Johnson’s pro-Brexit campaign was “remarkably similar” in its message to the controversial Republican’s US presidential bid.

He branded the former London mayor a “nicer version of Donald Trump”, saying he was leading a campaign based on immigration fears that were “about as relevant” to real issues as Trump’s views.

Regardless of the UK wrangling an interesting point is how the world would be affected if both Johnson and Trump become leaders of their respective countries.

How would it affect New Zealand?

Would John Key be able to build useful working relationships with Johnson and/or Trump? Would they care about New Zealand?

Would Andrew Little be able to build useful working relationships with Johnson and/or Trump?

Would Winston Peters be able to build useful working relationships with Johnson and/or Trump?