On Wednesday, the UK’s ambassador to the US stepped down from his post after confidential memos were leaked to the press that labeled President Trump and his administration as “incompetent,” “inept,” and “uniquely dysfunctional.”
Nearly two years’ worth of Sir Kim Darroch’s work memos were leaked to the press this past weekend and presented in The Mail in their Sunday newspaper. Several of these memos voiced Darroch’s opinion of the White House and its staff, putting them in a very unfavorable light. To which the President did not respond kindly to.
The ambassador said in a statement Wednesday, “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.” He went on to say, “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.”
He added, “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.”
It is believed that much of his decision to resign rests in the fact that British Conservative leader and frontrunner for the position of prime minister Boris Johnson did not back Darroch and voice the support of him completing his term.
While Johnson did not say the Darroch should be relieved of his post, neither did he push for his stay. When asked about the situation Johnson only said that a good relationship with the US was of “fantastic importance,” and that “we don’t want to put the whole special relationship on the edge because of a row about one person.” He added, “We do not have anything to gain from a running spat with the White House.”
Many in the Commons feel that Johnson, by not standing up for Darroch, essentially threw “our top diplomat under a bus” to “serve his own personal interests,” according to the Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan. Furthermore, Duncan claims this will have repercussions on Johnson, as “he has lost so much respect for having done what he’s done.”
According to the most senior official at the Foreign Office Simon McDonald, as well as outgoing prime minister Theresa May, Darroch was “simply doing your job” and was “the target of a malicious leak.” Ambassadors for foreign nations are expected to form opinions about the lands they are posted in and report back. A spokesperson for the prime minister confirmed this by saying it is “the job of ambassadors to provide honest and unvarnished opinions.”
It is for this reason that many feel Johnson’s treatment of the situation is “beyond unfair and wrong.” The Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn added that statement by saying that Darroch has given a life of “honourable and good service” to the UK. He went on to say that “the whole house should join together in deeply regretting the feeling he’s got that he must resign at this moment.”
It is unsure when a new ambassador will be appointed, and if it can be accomplished before May leaves the office of prime minister in just over a couple of weeks. A spokesman for May said that the decision would be made “in due course.”
As for the leak itself, that is still being investigated, and police have been brought in to help find the culprit. McDonald has said that they should be prepared for more leaks until the leaker is found.
The “big question” according to one senior UK official “is who would have the most to gain from the leak.”
Initially, it was thought that a senior UK politician or official might be at fault. However, as the investigation continues, many are beginning to believe that an enemy or hostile government may be to blame, as they would have much to gain in destabilizing relationships between prominent Western powers.
As British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says, “Of course it would be massively concerning if it was the act of a foreign, hostile state.” But he added, “I’ve seen no evidence that that’s the case, but we’ll look at the leak inquiry very carefully. They are going to follow all avenues of inquiry to try to understand how this happened. That’s something that will be considered.”