Leaked diplomatic cables revealed British ambassador Kim Darroch’s unflattering comments about President Trump and the White House.
LONDON – Britain’s ambassador to the United States resigned Wednesday amid a dispute over the diplomat’s leaked emails that were critical of President Donald Trump.
Kim Darroch, 65, said he was resigning to put an end to speculation surrounding how long he would stay on as Britain’s envoy in Washington after diplomatic cables he sent back to London described the Trump administration as “inept” and “chaotic.”
The leaks brought a fierce backlash from Trump, who branded Darroch “wacky,” “incompetent” and a “very stupid guy.” The administration made it clear that Darroch was an unwelcome presence in Washington and would effectively boycott his participation in meetings. British Prime Minister Theresa May, who will stand down July 23, suggested that Darroch should stay in the role.
His tenure in Britain’s most important diplomatic post was due to end in early 2020.
“The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like,” Darroch wrote in his resignation letter to the head of Britain’s foreign civil service.
There was no immediate reaction from Trump.
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said at the White House on Wednesday, “In light of the last few days, (Darroch’s) ability to be effective was probably limited, so it was probably the right choice.”
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is vying with former London Mayor Boris Johnson to replace May as Britain’s next leader, said in a statement that Darroch “served his country with the utmost dedication and distinction.”
Hunt said he was “sure that our ambassadors worldwide will continue to provide the objective and rigorous reporting that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has always prized. I profoundly regret how this episode has led Sir Kim to decide to resign.”
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Hunt called Trump’s comments “disrespectful.”
The confidential memos leaked Sunday to Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper portrayed Trump’s White House as “clumsy” and absorbed by “infighting.” The emails date back to 2017.
The furor comes at an awkward moment for Britain, which is in the process of selecting a new prime minister to replace May after she steps down in a few weeks. It’s also trying to resolve a political crisis caused by its 3-year-old decision to vote to leave the European Union. The “Brexit” hasn’t happened because parliamentarians are split over the issue.
The British government launched a formal investigation into the source of the leaks.
“It was clearly somebody who set out deliberately to sabotage Sir Kim’s ambassadorship, to make his position untenable and to have him replaced by somebody more congenial to the leaker,” Christopher Meyer, a former British ambassador to the United States and a close friend of Darroch’s, told BBC radio Tuesday.
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In the leaked emails, Darroch said of Trump, “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.”
May still has time to appoint another ambassador before she leaves office.
In Parliament, May called Darroch’s resignation “a matter of deep regret.”
Bookmaker Paddy Power said Trump ally Nigel Farage is the favorite for the role.
Jo Stevens, a politician for Britain’s opposition Labour Party, said in a tweet that Darroch’s resignation is a “taster of what a post #Brexit Britain & Johnson premiership will be like. Allowing foreign states & their rich bully boy mates over here to interfere & infect our democracy & civill service. It stinks.”
Jackson reported from Washington.
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