The UK ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch, resigned today following the leak of diplomatic cables over the weekend that showed him blasting the administration of Donald Trump, provoking a sharp attack from the US president.
In the cables, which date back to 2017, Darroch described the White House as “uniquely dysfunctional,” calling Trump “inept” and “insecure.” He anticipated the administration would end in “disgrace,” but compared a scandal-plagued Trump to the cyborg played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, saying it was possible he could “emerge from the flames, battered but intact.”
In his resignation today, Darroch said mounting speculation over his future in the wake of the leaks had become intolerable, adding: “The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.”
Trump shot back at Darroch—and UK prime minister Theresa May—again on Twitter yesterday (July 9), calling him a “pompous fool” and a “very stupid guy.” He had earlier vowed to no longer deal with the ambassador.
Darroch’s resignation also comes a day after Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to replace May as Conservative party leader and UK prime minister at the end of this month, refused to say last night whether he would protect the ambassador if he became leader. Johnson was appearing in a televised debate with his opponent in the race, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, who said that he would back Darroch until his term expired at the end of the year. Hunt also criticized Trump’s attack on the Washington ambassador.
The FT, citing government sources (paywall), reported that Darroch’s takeaway from the debate was that “when the chips are down [Johnson] was willing to throw civil servants under the bus.”
The head of the UK Foreign Office, Simon McDonald, said he accepted Darroch’s resignation with “deep personal regret” and thanked him for his service.
Several government officials and commentators have defended Darroch, with Hunt and May arguing that governments rely on ambassadors to provide frank assessments of world leaders in order to conduct diplomacy.