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Kim Darroch resigns as U.K. ambassador to the U.S.

Kim Darroch. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

U.K. Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch resigned Wednesday after days of controversy over his leaked cables back to London regarding President Trump's temperament.

Why it matters: The ensuing firestorm severely damaged his public reputation with the Trump administration — kicking off a war of words between the U.S. and the U.K. — and made him a persona non grata in the White House.

The backdrop, as outlined by Axios' Dave Lawler: Darroch described Trump's administration as "inept" and "incompetent" in private memos back to London that leaked to the Mail on Sunday.

  • After Prime Minister Theresa May declined to censure Darroch, Trump unleashed a series of tweets accusing the prime minister of taking a "foolish" approach to Brexit, and claiming his administration would cut off ties with the ambassador.
  • That forced U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to step in, calling Trump's comments "disrespectful and wrong to our Prime Minister and my country."

The big picture: Hunt, who is among the final two to become the next Conservative Party leader and, thus, prime minister, also said he'd keep Darroch should he be elected. Boris Johnson, the wide favorite to defeat Hunt in the race for Conservative leader, condemned the leaks but would not commit to retaining Darroch as ambassador.

What Darroch said in his resignation letter:

"Since the leak of official documents from this embassy there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position and the duration of my remaining term as ambassador. I want to put an end to that speculation. 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.
I am grateful to all those in the UK and the US, who have offered their support during this difficult few days. This has brought home to me the depth of friendship and close ties between our two countries. I have been deeply touched.
I am also grateful to all those with whom I have worked over the last four decades, particularly my team here in the US. The professionalism and integrity of the British civil service is the envy of the world. I will leave it full of confidence that its values remain in safe hands."

Go deeper: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will square off to replace Theresa May