UK Ambassador resigns after leak of diplomatic cables

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and British Ambassador to the U.S. Sir Kim Darroch, May 2016. Photo by Barry Bahler.

Kim Darroch, British ambassador to the US, has resigned days after cables in which he painted an unflattering picture of President Trump were leaked, CNN reports.

The embarrassing memos, published by the UK’s Daily Mail, to Downing Street describe a chaotic administration beset by ‘knife fights’ in the White House, a President who may be beholden to ‘dodgy Russians’, policies that threaten the world trade system, and an inept, sandal mired presidency that could end in “disgrace and downfall’. Sir Kim warned that in dealings with Trump points need to be kept “simple” but also to not write him off.

After the publication of the diplomatic cables, President Trump took to Twitter to opine about the Ambassador, saying “we will no longer deal with him”. In the wake of the embarrassing memos, which were intended for discreet viewing by UK officials, Trump called Sir Kim names and disinvited Darroch to a meeting with President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and the Emir of Qatar on Monday.

Darroch had served as the UK’s ambassador to the US since 2016 and was set to retire in May. Simon McDonald, Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said he accepted Sir Kim’s resignation with “deep regret”, according to CNN. Theresa May said Darroch’s resignation a “matter of great regret” and that he was owed an “enormous debt of gratitude” for his service.

In his resignation letter, Darroch said, “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 AP reports that McDonald told the Foreign Affairs Committee that this is the first time in his career that a head of state has refused to work with a British diplomat. He pointed out that, while this is not the first time a British ambassador has resigned their post because of actions against the host country, it is usually a country with adversarial relations, not an ally like the US. He said that in his nearly 40 years in government service, not even hostile nations have undertaken such an action.

The leaked cables are a source of embarrassment and threat to diplomatic security for Britain and officials vow to find the leaker. However, the presidential tweets about Darroch were offensive to UK officials, shaking a friendship that is already fraught at a time when the UK is heading towards a departure from the European Union.

Darroch’s dismissal by Trump and subsequent resignation, has come when Theresa May is also resigning and the race to chose a new Prime Minister is underway. May backed Darroch after the publication of the cables but Boris Johnson, who is seeking to lead the British Conservative party and become PM, did not, saying “I think it’s very important we should have a close partnership, a close friendship with the United States.”

Johnson’s rival, Jeremy Hunt, vowed to keep Darroch as ambassador if chosen as Prime Minister, but Darroch resigned after Johnson’s statements, per AP.

Criticism by an ambassador in private communications is not unusual, as the Washington Post points out, and the frank assessment of the leader of the country they are assigned to is the job of a diplomat. McDonald fears additional leaks of sensitive materials and told the Foreign Affairs Committee, “We will pursue the culprit with all the means at our disposal.”

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*Principle above party * Politically Homeless * Ex GOP * Tribalism is stupid* NeverTrump ≠ Pro Hillary. Anti-GOP ≠ Pro Dem. Disagreeing with you ≠ Liberal. Counter Social: @NoMorePlatosCave