Sir Kim Darroch has resigned as UK ambassador to the US, amid a row over leaked emails critical of President Trump’s administration.
Britain’s ambassador to the United States, Kim Darroch, has resigned after a series of leaked diplomatic cables revealed he told 10 Downing Street that the Trump administration was “inept” and “clumsy.”
The resignation, which was announced by the UK Foreign Office Today, came after US President Donald Trump said Monday that the White House would no longer deal with Darroch.
“I want to put an end to that speculation.”
In a letter to Simon McDonald, the permanent undersecretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Darroch said he wanted to “put an end to speculation” about his position and remaining term as ambassador.
“The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like,” he wrote. “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.”
In the cables, leaked to the Daily Mail newspaper, Darroch warned the UK government that Trump’s “career could end in disgrace,” and described conflicts within the White House as “knife fights.”
Theresa May said Wednesday it was a “matter of great regret” that Darroch had felt it necessary to resign and that the government owed him an “enormous debt of gratitude.”
“Good government depends on public servants being able to give full and frank advice,” May told the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions.
“I want all our public servants to have the confidence to be able to do that. And I hope the house will reflect on the importance of defending our values and principles — particularly when they are under pressure.”
In response to Darroch’s letter, McDonald said he accepted the ambassador’s resignation “with deep personal regret.”
“Over the last few difficult days you have behaved as you have always behaved over a long and distinguished career, with dignity, professionalism and class,” McDonald wrote. “The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and whole of the public service have stood with you: you were the target of a malicious leak; you were simply doing your job.”
In a debate for the Tory leadership contest on ITV on Tuesday, frontrunner Boris Johnson repeatedly refused to say whether he would keep Sir Kim in post if he became prime minister.
Fellow candidate and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he “profoundly” regretted the “outrageous” leak that led to Sir Kim’s departure. “It should never have come to this”, he added.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said Mr Johnson’s lack of support for Sir Kim was “the first major act” of Mr Johnson’s hypothetical leadership.
Darroch’s position was probably impossible after Johnson didn’t back him last night but British ambassadors around the world are not politicians, nor are they chosen by foreign govts – it matters a lot if we just chuck this convention out of the window without a backwards glance
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) July 10, 2019
Jeremy Corbyn told the Commons: “The comments made about him are beyond unfair and wrong. I think he has given honourable and good service and he should be thanked for it.”
Sir Kim had been due to step down at the end of the year.
He thanked those who had offered their support, both in the UK and the US during a “difficult few days”, adding that it had “brought home to me the depth of friendship and close ties between our two countries”.
In the emails leaked to the Mail on Sunday, Sir Kim said: “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.”
The emails, dating from 2017, said rumours of “infighting and chaos” in the White House were mostly true.
Who is Sir Kim Darroch?
Born in South Stanley, County Durham, in 1954, Sir Kim attended Durham University where he read zoology.
During a 42-year diplomatic career, he has specialised in national security issues and European Union policy.
In 2007, Sir Kim served in Brussels as the UK permanent representative to the EU.
He was the prime minister’s national security adviser between 2012 and 2015, dealing with issues such as the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, Russian annexation of Crimea, the nuclear threat from Iran and the collapse of government authority in Libya.
He became ambassador to the US in January 2016, a year before Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.