Obama’s trip to the UK hasn’t really been a hit with the locals. Not only did the British media pan his speech to Parliament, but he was heavily ridiculed for his botched toast to the Queen. And now, the city of London has just slapped him with a fine.
The mayor of London announced that the president’s motorcade and his limo “The Beast” would have to pay a “congestion charge.” A 2003 allows the mayor to levy the fine for excessive traffic since the streets were technically closed during the president’s visit.
The London Evening Standard reports:
The Mayor told the Standard each car in the President’s motorcade will be billed for £10 – including the bomb-proof Cadillac. Mr Johnson also said he had a discussion with Mr Obama about the US embassy’s refusal to pay £5.3 million in C-charge fines.
But the embassy said its position on not paying the C-charge was “wholly in accordance” with a convention on taxing diplomats. Mr Johnson said: “Our roads were not closed during the President’s visit so his motorcade will pay. The Beast will pay the charge, I’m delighted to say.
“We didn’t charge the Pope when he was here because all the roads were closed, so the Popemobile was exempt. But this was different.”
Mr Johnson raised the issue of the US embassy’s unpaid C-charge bill with the President during a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. He said: “We had a very friendly conversation. Suffice to say discussions will be ongoing.”
A spokesman for the Mayor later said: “They already owe £5.3 million so it is probable the bill for the motorcade will just go on top of that.”
A number of embassies in the capital insist the congestion charge is a tax giving them immunity from it.
For the record, one British pound sterling equals about $1.64 U.S. That means each car will have to pay $16.41, and that the embassy’s total bill equals a whopping $8,698,360.00.
But a source told the Evening Standard the president and the embassy have no intention of paying the fines:
“We conscientiously abide by all UK laws, including paying fines for all traffic violations, such as parking and speeding violations.
“Our position on the congestion charge is based on the 1960 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which prohibits the imposition of this sort of tax on diplomatic missions.”
I’m sure that will continue to strengthen the “special relationship.”