President Donald Trump said Sunday the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States “has not served the UK well,” after the ambassador called Trump “inept” and “incompetent” in leaked diplomatic cables.
Cables sent from the ambassador, Kim Darroch, back to London describe Trump as “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent,” a UK government official confirmed to CNN. The cables were leaked to and first published by the Daily Mail.
When asked for his reaction to Darroch’s comments, Trump told reporters, “No I haven’t seen it, but, you know, we’ve had our little ins and outs with a couple of countries and I would say that the UK, and the ambassador has not served the UK well, I can tell you that.”
“We’re not big fans of that man and he has not served the UK well, so I can understand it,” Trump said. “And I can say things about him but I won’t bother.”
In secret cables and briefing notes, Darroch warned the UK government that Trump’s “career could end in disgrace,” and described conflicts within the White House as “knife fights,” according to the Daily Mail.
A UK government source tells CNN the memos described in the Daily Mail story, which span the period between 2017 to present day, are genuine.
Relationship between the UK and US
The leaked cables come at a sensitive time in UK politics with Conservative Party members currently electing a new prime minister to succeed Theresa May, who was effectively toppled by her own members of Parliament for failing to deliver on her country’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union.
The favorite for the job, Boris Johnson, is seen as likely to seek to forge a much closer relationship to Trump than May, who made strenuous efforts to court the President and developed a respectful relationship but never really bonded with him politically. If it leaves the EU, Britain will be seeking to seal a bilateral trade deal with the US and Trump is expected to drive a hard bargain. So there will be speculation that the leak of Darroch’s memos was a politically motivated act by someone in London to clear space in Washington for an outspokenly pro-Brexit ambassador.
Darroch also used to work as national security adviser to former British Prime Minister David Cameron and as a top UK representative to the EU, so although he’s a career diplomat, he is not seen as philosophically aligned with the crowd of hardcore Brexiteers expected to take over 10 Downing Street.
Darroch had been riding high on the success of Trump’s trip to the UK in June which largely went off without a hitch. His position with the Trump administration however now looks difficult at best. Though his memos are deeply sensitive given the source, the unflattering depiction of the Trump White House is one that will be recognizable to readers of US media outlets.
CNN’s Schams Elwazer contributed to this report.