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17 Jul 2019 8:39
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  •   Home > News > International

    Kim Darroch, UK ambassador dubbed 'wacky and 'pompous' by Donald Trump, forced to resign over cable leaks

    The UK's ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, quits his posting after leaked memos revealed he described United States President Donald Trump's administration as dysfunctional and inept.

    The United Kingdom's ambassador to the United States has quit his post a day after US President Donald Trump labelled him "wacky", "pompous" and "very stupid".

    Sir Kim Darroch came under fire from Mr Trump after the leak of official documents he had sent back to the UK Government that described the White House as "dysfunctional" and Mr Trump "inept".

    In a statement, Sir Kim said the situation had made it "impossible" for him to carry out the role he had held since 2016.

    "Since the leak of official documents from this Embassy there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position and the duration of my remaining term as ambassador," he wrote.

    "I want to put an end to that speculation.

    "The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.

    "Although my posting is not due to end until the end of this year, I believe in the current circumstances, the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador."

    The US State Department responded, saying the countries "share a bond that is bigger than any individual".

    "We remain committed to the US-UK Special Relationship and our shared global agenda," a spokeswoman said.

    In announcing his resignation, Sir Kim also thanked those in the UK and US who had offered him support since the leak and said he was "deeply touched".

    Prime Minister Theresa May said Sir Kim had given "a lifetime of service" to the United Kingdom.

    She told Parliament she spoke to Sir Kim on Wednesday morning and said she did not want him to resign.

    Mrs May said diplomats must be able to give "full and frank advice" and said she wanted all public servants to have the confidence to do that.

    The diplomatic row comes at a critical time for Britain, as it hopes to strike a trade deal with the US, its closest ally, after it leaves the European Union — currently scheduled for October 31.

    Boris accused of throwing ambassador 'under a bus'

    British Foreign Secretary and candidate to be the country's next PM, Jeremy Hunt, said he was "deeply saddened" by Sir Kim's decision to resign and was "outraged" that his reports back from Washington had been leaked.

    "I am sure that our ambassadors worldwide will continue to provide the objective and rigorous reporting that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has always prized," Mr Hunt said in a statement.

    "I profoundly regret how this episode has led Sir Kim to decide to resign.

    "He deserves to look back upon his career as a servant of Britain with the greatest satisfaction and pride."

    Sir Kim, a well-respected diplomat with over 40 years' service, became the UK's ambassador to the US in January 2016 — a year before Donald Trump's inauguration — and was due to stand down at the end of the year.

    The spotlight is now on Conservative Party leadership hopeful Boris Johnson, a friend of Mr Trump, who failed to back Sir Kim during a televised leadership debate with Mr Hunt on Tuesday night.

    Mr Johnson, a former foreign secretary, is widely tipped to win the leadership contest and become prime minister when Mrs May stands down on July 23.

    Sources close to Sir Kim have said he watched the debate and made his decision to stand down after Mr Johnson's failure to rebuke Mr Trump on his comments.

    Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Sir Alan Duncan, a Hunt supporter, accused Mr Johnson of throwing Sir Kim "under a bus".

    "Boris Johnson has basically thrown our top ambassador under the bus," he told the BBC.

    "And there are a lot of people here in the Commons who are very angry and feel he has lost so much respect for having done what he's done."

    Mr Johnson said he regretted Sir Kim's resignation because "he is a superb diplomat and I worked with him for many years".

    "I think whoever leaked his diptels (diplomatic telegrams) really has done a grave disservice to our civil servants, to people who give impartial advice to ministers," he said.

    "I hope that whoever it is, is run down, caught and eviscerated, quite frankly, because it is not right that advice to ministers that civil servants must be able to make in a spirit of freedom should be leaked.

    "It is not right that civil servants' careers and prospects should be dragged into the political agenda."

    Leaked memos bring ambassador down

    The catalyst for Sir Kim's downfall were a series of diplomatic cables dating back to 2017 that were leaked to UK newspaper The Mail on Sunday.

    The cables contained many negative assessments of the Trump Administration.

    "We don't really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept," he wrote in one memo.

    Another described Mr Trump's policy on Iran as "incoherent" and "chaotic", while Sir Kim said there were doubts the White House "will ever look competent", and the only way to communicate with the President was by being simple and blunt.

    It also said that while Mr Trump had been "dazzled" by his state visit hosted by the Queen in June, it would most likely not change his "America First" priorities.

    Trump bites back

    Mr Trump told reporters on Monday that Sir Kim "had not served the UK well" before he took to his favoured medium of Twitter to say what he really thought.

    He backed it up with another series of tweets on Tuesday where he called Sir Kim "very stupid".

    "The wacky ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy," Mr Trump wrote.

    "He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled.

    "I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way— was unable to get it done. A disaster!

    "I don't know the ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.

    "Tell him the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World, by far."

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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