British Ambassadors have often sent candid, and not always flattering, assessments of US administrations. The next Prime Minister of this country ought to understand thisby Stephen Wall / July 10, 2019 / Leave a comment
The US President crassly insults Britain’s Ambassador to the United States. The Ambassador, Kim Darroch, resigns. The incongruous injustice of it is obvious.
I worked closely with Kim Darroch in Brussels and in London. I do not know the motive of the leaker, but they have done a cruel deed to an able and good man.
There are also big issues at stake. Was Darroch fulfilling his proper role? Should he have resigned? Should his resignation have been accepted? Did our government give him adequate support? Do they stand up to the weird man who now leads our most important ally?
Kim Darroch was Her Majesty’s Ambassador. His credentials as Ambassador to Washington were addressed by the Queen to the US President. At one level, those things are a formality, but they underline the significance of the role. In insulting Kim Darroch, Trump was insulting our Head of State.
Trump’s comments, and his gratuitous offensiveness to the Prime Minister, are typical of the man and—like all bullies—once he had started kicking his victim, he went on doing it.
The immediate response of the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was equivocal. Darroch had his confidence but his views were his personal ones and Hunt did not share them.
Should the British government have been more robust? It should. Yes, Darroch’s views were personal in the sense that he is a person and he wrote them. But they represented a professional assessment of the Trump administration and how to deal with it, that will have been carefully weighed with others in the Embassy. That is what diplomats do.
I worked in the Washington Embassy under two professional Ambassadors. They had their nose to the ground; they put out the small fires which, even under normal Presidents, break out between London and Washington; they gave the government at home their best judgement as people experienced in their trade.
British Ambassadors—and there have been both Foreign Office officials and politicians in the role at different times—have sent candid, and not always flattering, assessments of US administrations. They did not leak. In the case of Darroch’s views, to most of us they read like statements of an evident truth. If Hunt really did not share them, then he was in a minority.
In 1973, the US Secretary…