Jul 10, 2019

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

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Johnson won't say if he'd keep ambassador to U.S. on if he becomes PM

Boris Johnson during the Conservative Party leadership debate. Photo: Matt Frost/ITV via Getty Images

Boris Johnson repeatedly evaded answering leadership debate questions Tuesday on whether he'd keep the British ambassador to the U.S. in office if he becomes prime minister this month, following the leak of cables criticizing President Trump.

The big picture: During the debate, Johnson's rival, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, reiterated he'd keep Kim Darroch in his post until December, when he's due to retire — despite Trump saying he'd "no longer deal" with him. Johnson, the front-runner to replace Prime Minister Theresa May as Conservative Party leader, said he's "not going to be so presumptuous" on what date Darroch leaves his job.

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

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What ambassadors say about Trump

Kim Darroch in 2017. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

The latest leak-gate has ended with an exit for U.K. ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch, who resigned Wednesday in the face of public attacks from President Trump.

Why it matters: "Until Mr. Darroch’s confidential cables appeared in the Daily Mail last weekend, none of the major ambassadors in Washington had been denounced by President Trump as 'wacky' and a 'very stupid guy,'" the NY Times' David Sanger notes.

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Trump abandoned Iran nuclear deal to "spite Obama," U.K. leak claims

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The suspected leaker of confidential cables from Britain's ambassador to the U.S. has been identified, the Sunday Times reports, as fresh leaks to the Mail on Sunday claim President Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal to "spite" predecessor Barack Obama.

Details: The latest leak shows Kim Darroch, who resigned Wednesday, expressed his thoughts on the Iran situation to then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson — the front-runner to replace Prime Minister Theresa May as Conservative Party leader. He wrote that Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 agreement for "personality reasons" as it was the former president's pact.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jul 14, 2019