British Ambassador Resigns In Wake Of Release Of Diplomatic Cables

After diplomatic cables in which he referred to the President in frank and disparaging terms, the British Ambassador to the United States has resigned.

Just days after the leak of diplomatic cables to officials in London in which he spoke in frank and rather disparaging terms about the President of the United States became public, the British Ambassador to the United States has resigned:

Kim Darroch submitted his resignation on Wednesday as Britain’s ambassador to the United States, following the leak of his candid observations about the Trump administration and the subsequent fierce criticism of him and the British government from President Trump.

“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,” Mr. Darroch said in a letter to the head of the British Foreign Office. “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,” Mr. Darroch wrote, according to extracts released by the Foreign Office.

More from The Telegraph:

Sir Kim Darroch has resigned as British Ambassador to the United States after confidential emails he sent while he was in post were leaked. 

In a letter to Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Kim said:  “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.”

Sir Kim added he was “grateful” to those in the UK and the US who have offered him support during what he has described as these “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“.

In response to Sir Kim’s resignation, Sir Simon McDonald, the Foreign Office Permanent Secretary, said he accepted his resignation with “deep personal regret” adding that he was the “target of a malicious leak”. 

“Over the last few difficult days you have behaved as you have always behaved over a long and distinguished career, with dignity, professionalism and class,”  Sir Simon said. 

“The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and whole of the public service have stood with you: you were the target of a malicious leak; you were simply doing your job.

“I understand your wish to relieve the pressure on your family and your colleagues at the Embassy; I admire the fact that you think more of others than yourself. You demonstrate the essence of the values of British public service.”

Addressing PMQ’s Theresa May added Sir Kim’s resignation was a matter of great regret and said “we owe him a debt of gratitude”. 

However sources close to Sir Kim said he decided he quit after Boris Johnson failed to back him in the debates last night.

In the live head-to-head debate on ITV last night the Tory front runner repeatedly refused to say whether Sir Kim should remain in his job.

However Mr Johnson did not accept any blame in his response to Sir Kim Darroch’s resignation, instead saying: “I think whoever leaked his diptels (diplomatic telegrams) really has done a grave disservice to our civil servants, to people who give impartial advice to ministers,” he said. “I hope that whoever it is, is run down, caught and eviscerated, quite frankly, because it is not right that advice to ministers that civil servants must be able to make in a spirit of freedom should be leaked.
“It is not right that civil servants’ careers and prospects should be dragged into the political agenda.”

This matter began, of course, on Sunday when The New York Times and other news outlets reported on a series of diplomatic cables that Ambassador Darroch had sent to his superiors back home. In the cables, Darroch discussed his evaluation of the President and of the manner in which the British government should handle the new President, who from the beginning acted in a manner far different, and far more erratic, than any of his predcesssorrs. Many of those evaluations used strong and highly negative language to describe the President and suggested that the best way to get on the President’s good side was to stroke his rather massive ego during official events, something that has long been evidence to Trump as a civilian, a candidate, and as President. Many of these cables used harsh and frank language to describe the President and his behavior, for what I think are obvious reasons.

Not surprisingly the President reacted quite strongly to the reports about Ambassador Darroch’s comments, including stating that his Administration refused to do business with him even if he did stay in his position. Even without that statement from the White House, it was clear that Darroch’s position, which was coming to an end at the end of the year if not sooner given the fact that the United Kingdom will soon have a new Prime Minister and possibly a new Foreign Secretary, was compromised and that it would be difficult for him to continue to do his job effectively. This leaves open, of course, the question of who may have leaked the cables, something that the British Government is currently investigating. That’s a question for another day, though. Darroch is out and a new Prime Minister will soon in place. Presumably, whoever that is, and it continues to appear as if it will be Boris Johnson, will pick a new Ambassador.

Essentially the Ambassador was forced to resign for telling the truth. I can assure you that the Ambassadors of other allied (and non-allied) nations are sending similar reports back to their superiors. Because what Ambassador Darroch said is completely accurate, as we have learned after watching this Idiot In Chief operate for the past two-and-a-half-years.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, United Kingdom, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mattbernius says:

    Man, remember how outraged folks on the right were when Obama created that unforgivable protocol gaffe of *checks notes* getting a toast to the Queen wrong and *checks notes* returned a bust of Churchill in keeping with a loan agreement.

    I am sure they’ll be up in arms about the way that Trump was openly attacking the Ambassador and the PM on twitter.

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  2. CSK says:

    Given what Darroch’s colleagues have said about Darroch, they clearly have the highest regard for him. It’s also clear they share his eminently well-justified contempt for Trump.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    Darroch seems to be universally respected. That’s not shocking: he rose to the plum assignment in his field. And of course his assessment was correct and proper: it’s his job to offer candid observations in private.

    Alas, once his comments were leaked to the press, he simply had to go. He could no longer effectively do his job. So, he’ll be replaced by a slightly-less-able diplomat who will undoubtedly form the same opinion but, hopefully, be allowed to keep it private.

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  4. Kit says:

    A diplomat needs both access and, to a degree, trust in order to fulfill his duties. And so Darroch found himself in an untenable position. By what I’ve read, he seems the sort of man we have stripped from our ranks. As part of the proof of that, I suspect that he will quickly slip off of the front page, and soon be back serving his country elsewhere.

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  5. MarkedMan says:

    Cui bono? Who benefits from leaking this now? And who of those would have access to them? Russia? The EU or an important member of the EU? China?

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  6. mattbernius says:

    Presumably, whoever that is, and it continues to appear as if it will be Boris Johnson, will pick a new Ambassador.

    There has been some speculation that Darroch’s choice to step down immediately is a bit of bureaucratic revenge on Johnson, in so much as May and company may select a new Ambassador prior to Johnson’s election (taking the choice away from him).

    It will be interesting to see if that’s just idle speculation or if things get that nasty.

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    what Ambassador Darroch said is completely accurate, as we have learned after watching this Idiot In Chief operate for the past two-and-a-half-years.

    And he has 45% approval. Gawd.

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  8. Joe says:

    MarkedMan has asked the only open question. That Darroch’s assessment was unremarkable and that Darroch had to go after his assessment was published are both pretty simple. But someone was gunning to separate Darroch from that post somebody succeeded.

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  9. grumpy realist says:

    …..just as long as you don’t read the comments over at the Telegraph….oy veh!

    I’m starting to seriously think that all organisations/empires/countries finally end up doing themselves in with an unconscious death wish. Something about finally getting tired of doing all the hard work to keep themselves going forwards. Then the system tilts towards “doing something crazy simply because it’s DIFFERENT!!!” and everyone gets caught up in a deranged stampede of nihilism. That’s the only explanation I can see for what is going on in the U.K.

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  10. DrDaveT says:

    Sir Kim added he was “grateful” to those in the UK and the US who have offered him support during what he has described as these “difficult few days”.

    Now that is how a real diplomat operates. In a throwaway line while talking about something else entirely, he nevertheless manages to send a clear (yet deniable) message to anyone listening that a nontrivial number of the Americans he was working with agree with him about Trump.

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  11. DrDaveT says:

    @Joe:

    But someone was gunning to separate Darroch from that post [and] somebody succeeded.

    It would not entirely surprise me if someone in Her Majesty’s Government thought a public humiliation of Trump would be salutary, and Sir Kim was willing (or designated) to take one for the team. As James notes, it will be interesting to see where he goes next…

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  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Tell the truth about the fat orange blob in the Oval Office and lose your job.
    Protect a pedophile…you’re good.
    MAGA!!!

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  13. JohnSF says:

    The point is this was a political hit mounted in London on Darroch.

    The leak was via Isabel Oakeshott, who is both Daily Mail reporter/commentator and an associate of various figures on the right: Lord Ashcroft, Banks, Farage, Wigmore etc.

    The leaked information included not just diplomatic telegrams with circulation in the thousands in Whitehall, but also much more limited circualtion (100’s) confidential ambassadors letters.

    The leaker had to be a senior civil servant, a minister, or a SpAd (ministerial special advisor).
    And no civil servant would leak via Oakeshott: she’s both partisan and known for turning over sources under pressure.

    Darroch could have been targeted as a (presumed, by fools) “Remainer”, as a former UK PermRep in Brussels. (He was also Cameron’s National Security Advisor)

    Or, Darroch could have been (welcomed) collateral:

    1) There had been reports of Sir Mark Sedwill being the most likely replacement when Darroch left when due at the end of this year; Sedwill has a lot of enemies in the Johnson camp esp. former Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who was dismissed for leaking.

    2) There have been repeated reports of Farage coveting the post of US ambassador; a post which has seen “political” appointees in the past.
    Maybe someone in Johnson’s camp is floating a possible “offer” to Farage in return for standing down his Brexit Party challenge to the Tories?

    In any case, it was just leak and let Trump’s predictable reaction do the work.

    Whatever the motivation, it stinks.
    As does Johnson’s reaction.

    Putting the national interest and the career of an honourable public servant at play for political manoeuvres despicable to a point bordering on treasonous; and pretty plainly a criminal breach of the OSA.

    It will be interesting to see if the leak enquiry is pursued with full force, or quietly buried.

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  14. Jen says:

    @JohnSF: Thank you for that additional context.

    I’d been wondering what the motivation for the leak might have been, since as others have noted, there isn’t anything inaccurate at all about Amb. Darroch’s observations.

    It is a certainty that our ambassadors have made similarly unflattering assessments of other leaders, and this leak (and its result) is troubling to say the least. Weaponizing the truth for personal or professional gain is never going to end well.

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  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    The bigger issue here is that the UK has now created a precedent that the US President has a veto over their diplomatic assignments, which is not a good precedent for a country that wants to style itself as a world power.

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  16. JKB says:

    This is internal British bureaucratic politics. Or it means that British diplomatic communications are completely compromised. The cables basically repeat MSNBC, but once such stark language is exposed an ambassador is unlikely to be effective in their assignment. This guy isn’t the only Brit who can represent the British government in the US. Perhaps is was leaked by someone who felt they had a better shot at the posting before the coming PM change?

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  17. An Interested Party says:

    The cables basically repeat MSNBC…

    Well, facts do have a well-known liberal bias…

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  18. Ken_L says:

    Nigel Brexit has said he’s not interested, which will no doubt make Trump add him to the enemies list. Perhaps Seb Gorka, with his extensive knowledge of both countries, could be persuaded to take on the job.

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  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: “Taking one for the team” certainly works as an explanation for what happened here. Good catch.

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