When the Mail on Sunday published private assessments of the White House from the British ambassador to the United States, President Trump expressed outrage.
In a leaked cable, Ambassador Kim Darroch called the White House “inept” and “incompetent” and said the president “radiates insecurity.” Trump called Darroch “stupid” and said he wouldn’t deal with him.
On Wednesday, after 3 1/2 years in his post, Darroch resigned.
The episode generated outrage in London as well — not because of Darroch’s criticisms, which are shared among political observers here, but because many Britons suspect someone leaked the candid assessments of a leading diplomat for political advantage.
“You were the target of a malicious leak; you were simply doing your job,” Simon McDonald, permanent under secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote on Wednesday to Darroch upon accepting his resignation.
Anthony Gardner, a former U.S. ambassador to the European Union, said leaks like the ones involving Darroch’s comments could damage the effectiveness of the United Kingdom and the morale of its diplomats.
“If the U.K. allows the civil service and diplomatic corps to be politicized or … to feel that the opinions that they express are going to destroy their careers because they’re out of sync with the prevailing orthodoxy, the U.K. would lose a very important asset,” says Gardner.
The Foreign Office is investigating whether a member of the government leaked the diplomatic cables.
On Monday, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said there is no evidence a foreign government was involved.
The most popular theory — and it is just a theory — in the national press is that Darroch was targeted because he had supported Britain staying in the European Union and the leak would help push him out of the job before his term was to conclude at the end of this year. After Darroch’s comments became public, Brexiteer politicians questioned his loyalty to the Brexit cause. Read more