Sir Kim Darroch is leaving his Washington post early as it had become “impossible” for him to carry out his duties effectively in the wake of the firestorm after his diplomatic cables to London were leaked. It followed a wave of abuse from Mr Trump in which he branded the ambassador a “very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool” and said the administration would have no further dealings with him.
Sir Kim’s position came under further pressure when Mr Johnson, the Tory leadership front runner, repeatedly refused to back him in Tuesday’s Tory leadership TV debate.
Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan angrily accused Mr Johnson of having thrown Sir Kim “under a bus” to further his own leadership ambitions.
Chancellor Philip Hammond, who said he does not expect to serve in a Johnson-led Cabinet, made his displeasure clear.
He told ITV’s Peston: “I think, as a former foreign secretary, I would have felt the obligation to stand up for a first class civil servant who has done nothing wrong.”
And Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames said: “I have to say that I didn’t think that Boris behaved in the way that one would expect a former foreign secretary, who understands the important relationships with ambassadors, and the importance of ambassadors telling the truth of what they see and find.
“I thought he hung Kim Darroch out to dry… and I was ashamed to see it.”
There are now fears that any appointment made by Mr Johnson could be politically motivated by a desire to curry favour with the White House and it has been suggested Mrs May names Sir Kim’s replacement before she leaves Downing Street in a fortnight.
Downing Street has refused to be drawn on whether Mrs May intends to appoint a new ambassador while allies of Mr Johnson have insisted the next prime minister must decide who Britain’s new envoy to the US should be.
But in response to questions, Mrs May’s official spokesman said only: “In terms of this particular replacement, that will take place in due course.”
Sir Alan, however, hinted that an early appointment may be unlikely.
He said: ”We do really want to make sure we get the very best person and I think it’d be a pity if in the interests of alacrity we chose a number two rather than a number one.
“So it’s not for me to make any further comment on that really. I don’t know whose names might be in the frame, but that’s a matter for the Prime Minister to decide.”
Published at Thu, 11 Jul 2019 15:46:00 +0000