The British Ambassador Affair

The British Ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, resigned on Wednesday morning to everyone’s surprise. 

Theresa May said shortly in Parliament that Sir Kim’s departure was “a matter of deep regret” after the ambassador said it was “impossible” for him to continue. Tory leadership candidate Boris Johnson has faced criticism for failing to fully support him during a televised TV debate on Tuesday. His rival Jeremy Hunt had said if he became Prime Minister, “Sir Kim Darroch would remain Ambassador.”

What happened?

Leaked memos were published in the press – in which Sir Kim described US President Donald Trump and his administration as “incompetent”, “inept” and “insecure” have provoked the anger of the US president, who tweeted that the ambassador has “not served the UK well” and that Washington “will no longer deal with him”.

How will Sir Kim Darroch’s resignation and this diplomatic row change the “special relationship” between the UK and the US? If Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister, he will likely name a diplomat and Brexiter to Washington. The leader of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage was hoping to be British Ambassador to the US. When Donald Trump visited the UK for a State visit beginning of June, he met Mr Farage in private at the residence of the US Ambassador at Regent’s Park in London. Trump praised Farage in the press and suggested he should participate in the Brexit negotiations. The leader of the Brexit Party was the first British politician to meet Donald Trump after his election in 2016. 

Theresa May, who is still Prime Minister could checkmate Boris Johnson and post a new British Ambassador in her last two weeks at Downing Street. But this diplomatic row might not change things if Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister as Trump and Johnson get along together. If Jeremy Hunt becomes Prime Minister, the situation could be a bit different. 

At the moment, after US President’s Donald Trump’s tweets against Theresa May’s Brexit strategy, the US-UK relationship has shifted. If there is a General Election and the Lib Dems or Labour comes to power, then the “special relationship” might shift. It is too early to say. 

Will the diplomatic row change anything to the Tory Leadership?

The result will be decided by the Conservative party’s 160,000 members, many of whom will have already voted by the time the row has started or finished. A few Conservative MPs criticised Boris Johnson on Wednesday on how he dealt with this.  Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan accused his former boss of throwing the diplomat “under a bus”. A few former Tory frontrunners who were against Johnson in the past, had backed him yesterday.