Sir Kim Darroch resigned on Wednesday after claiming scrutiny around his leaked memo made it “impossible” to carry out his role. The former British ambassador to the US quit after it emerged Sir Kim had said the US President was “insecure”, “inept” and ran a “uniquely dysfunctional” White House in private memos that were leaked. Speaking on Politics Live, the BBC’S Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg revealed the real reason Sir Kim had decided to step down.
She said: “I have been told that Sir Kim was aware of the debate last night. He watched. He saw Boris Johnson failed to give him his direct backing and as a result of that he decided his position was not possible to continue.
“It is worth saying he was due to retire anyway and to move on in January, and the assumption until last night was, ‘although this was terribly awkward because he was going anyway, somehow people would sort of muddle through’. But the debate last night is what changed the dial for Sir Kim in his view on whether or not he could carry on.
“Boris Johnson hasn’t even moved into Number 10 yet. The widely held assumption among the Conservative Party is he will be the Prime Minister in a fortnight, now. This is the first major act of a premiership that is still hypothetical, that was the chain of events.
“An explosive leak against Sir Kim, President Trump the visible goes after our most senior diplomat. Our potential next Prime Minister fails to back him and then all of a sudden, one of our ambassadors finds himself in an impossible position.”
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She added: “I think it is just worth repeating, just before we went to Prime Minister’s Questions. A senior member of the Government said to me earlier this week, no country would ever allow another country to be forced to change its ambassador. That is what just seems to have happened. That is a big convention just broken.”
In a letter to the head of the Foreign Office, Sir Simon McDonald, Sir Kim said the current situation had made it “impossible” for him to carry out his job and said he believed it was “responsible” for a new ambassador to take his place.
He wrote: “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 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.
“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.”
In an attack at Sir Kim on Tuesday, the US President branded the former British ambassador as “wacky” and “a stupid guy”.
He wrote: “The wacky Ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled.
“I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster!
“I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool. Tell him the USA now has the best Economy and Military anywhere in the World, by far and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger…..Thank you, Mr. President!”
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Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has faced criticism for failing to give Sir Kim his full support during the ITV debate on Tuesday evening.
Giving his reaction to the resignation, Mr Johnson said: “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.
“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.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said the resignation was a “matter of great regret”.