US President Barack Obama will not be exempted from paying the congestion charge in London for the passage of his security vehicle 'The Beast' through the city for his state visit, according to London Mayor Boris Johnson.
All of the cars in his massive fleet, including the armored Cadillac, will each incur a $16 bill for making their way through the center of London in peak time. Johnson said that unlike the Pope’s visit, the roads were not closed.
This is why the Popemobile was exempted and why Obama will have to be charged. The U.S. embassy had refused to pay $8.7 million in fines that accumulated by its cars that go through London's congestion zone, asserting that it is immune since it’s technically a tax and as such, only UK residents have to pay it. But at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, Johnson informed Obama that there won’t be preferential treatment for his fleet.
In an interview with the London Evening Standard, Johnson said that they had a “very friendly conversation” and that talks will continue. It hasn’t been calculated yet just how much Obama’s motorcade will cost.
But according to a spokesman from the London mayor’s office, the U.S. owes £5.3 million so it’s likely that the bill will simply be added to it. Transport for London says that currently, the foreign diplomatic missions in the English capital owe $83 million in unpaid congestion charges.