Senior British politicians have defended the country’s ambassador to the US in an escalating scandal over leaked diplomatic cables that described President Donald Trump as “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent.”
The UK Prime Minister’s spokesman said Monday that Theresa May has “full faith” in Kim Darroch and that providing an “unvarnished assessment” is an ambassador’s job.
He added, however, that May does not agree with Darroch and that London had contacted Washington to say the leaks were “unacceptable and a matter of regret.”
In the cables leaked to the Daily Mail newspaper, 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 Mail, the memos span the period between 2017 to present day, covering everything from Trump’s foreign policy to his 2020 reelection plans
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt – who is also a candidate to be Britain’s next Prime Minister – said on Monday that while he did not share Darroch’s views, it was still “very important” that UK diplomats across the world can “continue to give us their frank assessments.”
“We need to be able to have a debate inside these (government) buildings, we need to be able to disagree,” Hunt told reporters during a press conference in London on Monday.
He said there would be a “leak inquiry” to “get to the bottom” of the incident and that there would be “very serious consequences” for the person responsible.
Likewise, UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, laid blame with the person who carried out the “unconscionable” leaks – rather than the ambassador himself – during an interview with BBC Radio 4 on Monday.
“It’s not a problem with the ambassador. This a problem with the ethics of the individual who carried out this particular leak,” said Fox, adding that he hoped the “full force” of the law would come down on the person responsible.
Speaking from Washington, Fox said he would be meeting with Ivanka Trump and “apologizing for the fact that either our civil service or elements of our political class” have not “lived up to the expectations” of the UK and US.
He added that in this particular case, proper protocol “lapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way.”
Leak undermines special relationship
While foreign envoys of all nations are often candid in classified dispatches back home, there are periodic episodes when such assessments leak, causing great political embarrassment.
In response to this episode, Trump told reporters Sunday “we’re not big fans” of Darroch and the ambassador “has not served the UK well.”
Foreign Secretary Hunt was at pains to emphasize that the UK would not allow “any interruption” in the “superb relationship” it has with its “closest ally around the world.”
But the leak still undermines months of efforts by Darroch and his diplomats to build ties and trust with Trump and his political acolytes.
It also comes at a delicate time in British politics, with Conservative Party members currently electing a new Prime Minister to succeed May, who announced her resignation two months ago after failing to get her European Union withdrawal deal approved by Parliament.
When asked on BBC Radio 4 whether he was instead an option, Farage said: “I don’t think I’m the right man for that job.”
CNN’s Barbara Wojazer and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report