British ambassador to Washington resigns after leaked memo spat

US President Donald Trump

Boris Johnson is facing a furious backlash after Britain's ambassador to the U.S. quit following the leak of diplomatic dispatches critical of Donald Trump's White House. "I believe in the current circumstances the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador".

Sir Kim Darroch said he was leaving his post early as it had become "impossible" for him to carry out his duties effectively in the wake of the firestorm over his private advice to ministers.

"The wacky Ambassador that the UK. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy", Trump tweeted.

"Boris Johnson was tested on whether he would support his country or not failed in that test", Conservative MP Alan Duncan told the BBC after news emerged that the UK's ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch has quit.

"Since the leak of official documents from this Embassy there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position", he said.

President Trump responded to the leaked documents by saying "we're not big fans of that man and he has not served the United Kingdom well".

"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", one missive said.

During a campaign visit on Wednesday, Johnson, who was himself foreign minister until a year ago, called Darroch "a superb diplomat", adding that whoever leaked the documents had "done a grave disservice to our civil servants".

"The fact that Sir Kim has been bullied out of his job, because of Donald Trump's tantrums and Boris Johnson's pathetic lick-spittle response, is something that shames our country", said Emily Thornberry, the spokeswoman on foreign affairs issues for the main opposition Labour Party. "Like I've said, sometimes a great story is just that; not some kind of global conspiracy".

Darroch had served as Britain's envoy to Washington since 2016; the leaked cables covered a period from 2017 to recent weeks.

Darroch, who said his position had become untenable, had watched the debate, a diplomatic source told Reuters and another source familiar with the envoy's thinking said the former London mayor's comments "were a factor" in his decision to resign.

In his statement he revealed that he wanted to "put an end" to the speculation around his future following the furore over the leaking of the damaging secret memos.

But he said the trans-Atlantic relationship was "so deep and so wide that it will withstand any individual squall".

He said he regretted how an "outrageous leak caused this".

It led to a scathing tirade from the U.S. president.

Appointing ambassadors usually involves a formal civil service process with advertisements, applications and interviews, though Simon McDonald, head of Britain's diplomatic service, said the post of ambassador to the U.S. wasn't always chosen that way.

"I think it's very important we should have a close partnership, a close friendship with the United States", Johnson said.

Sir Nigel Sheinwald, a former ambassador to the USA, said he believed Mr Johnson's comments may have played a part in Sir Kim's decision to go.



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