Sir Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to the United States has resigned amid a dispute over the diplomat’s leaked emails that were critical of President Donald Trump.
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 ‘dysfunctional’.
“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.
Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May had offered her full support to Kim Darroch after he was revealed to have described the Trump administration as “inept”.
But the man tipped to replace her in Downing Street in the coming weeks, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, declined to explicitly back the diplomat, emphasising instead the need to maintain strong ties with the US.
In a series of confidential cables revealed by a British newspaper at the weekend, Darroch described the Trump administration as “uniquely dysfunctional”.
Trump hit back with a torrent of angry tweets, saying he would not deal with Darroch again, and describing him as a “very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool”.
He also criticised May’s “foolish” policies and said it was a good thing she would soon be replaced.
Darroch has been in Washington since January 2016 and was due to stay on until the end of the year.
Darroch has received support from across the political spectrum in Britain and after he resigned, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “It should never have come to this.”
Hunt, who is vying with Johnson to replace May as leader of the ruling Conservative party and thus prime minister, on Tuesday condemned Trump’s outbursts as “disrespectful and wrong”.
But Johnson declined several opportunities in a TV debate on Tuesday night to back Britain’s ambassador.
Of Trump’s tweets, he said: “I don’t think it was necessarily the right thing for him to do… but our relationship with the US is of fantastic importance.”
Reports suggest that it was at that point that Darroch decided that he must resign.
May expressed “great regret” that Darroch was leaving, saying: “Good government depends on public servants being able to give full and frank advice.”
She emphasised “the importance of defending our values and principles particularly when they are under pressure”.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the separatist Scottish National Party, said Darroch had been “forced out” for doing his job.
“Boris Johnson’s failure last night to stand up for him — and stand up to the behaviour of Donald Trump — spoke volumes,” she said.
Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative chairman of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, warned the incident could have far-reaching implications.
“If the UK can’t protect diplomatic communications and that costs people their careers, when all they’ve done is to execute the wishes of the government, we will degrade the quality of our envoys, diminish our influence and weaken our country,” he said.