Donald Trump lashed out at Theresa May on Monday, visibly angry at her continuing support for the British ambassador to Washington despite the leak of diplomatic cables highly critical of his presidency.
The British ambassador to the US was dis-invited from a lavish White House dinner with Donald Trump last night in a brutal snub as the two countries became embroiled in a full-scale diplomatic spat.
Sir Kim Darroch was barred from the posh event for the Emir of Qatar after the American president said that he will ‘refuse to deal’ with the ambassador after the leak of cables in which the diplomat labelled Mr Trump ‘inept’.
Trump launched a double-pronged attack on Britain’s man in Washington and Theresa May’s handling of Brexit in a series of explosive tweets as a rift opened up between the two countries, which share a supposed ‘special relationship’.
The President also called Mrs May’s negotiations with the EU ‘a mess’ and said he looked forward to welcoming a new Prime Minister once she steps aside.
But Downing Street has refused to bend, saying the veteran diplomat continues to have the ‘full support’ of the Prime Minister.
With Theresa May having just two weeks in power it suggests her replacement could be faced with a diplomatic headache as soon as they take office.
Secret cables leaked to The Mail on Sunday over the weekend showed Sir Kim ranting that the White House would ‘never look competent’ under Trump.
It prompted a tweet on Monday in which Trump said Darroch was ‘not well thought of’ in the US and seemed to call for the UK to send a replacement to Washington.
Darroch cables leak may only have to focus on a dozen people, predecessor says
As few as a dozen people may have had access to the cables by Sir Kim Darroch that were leaked, his predecessor has said.
Sir Peter Westmacott said that the most sensitive material sent back to London was not widely distributed.
He spoke to the BBC’s Newsnight after claims that hundreds of people could have had access to the explosive diplomatic material.
It came as a major probe began in Whitehall to discover who had leaked the secret memos, wtih calls for a police investigation.
‘Some of those diplomatic cables sent by the embassy in Washington would indeed have been seen by hundreds of people,’ Sir Peter said.
‘But the more sensitive stuff — in other words, the ambassador’s personal judgment about the longevity of the Trump administration — would have been written as a letter addressed to an individual, copied to a small number of other individuals, probably not more than half a dozen, perhaps 10 or 12.
‘I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the US,’ he added.
‘We will no longer deal with him.’
‘The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new Prime Minister,’ Trump continued.
‘While I thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent State Visit last month, it was the Queen who I was most impressed with!’
At Monday night’s dinner in Washington Mr Trump sat at a table with Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and New England Patriots owner and businessman Robert Kraft.
Following Trump’s tweets Mrs May reiterated a statement she made earlier in the day saying she had ‘full faith’ in Sir Kim.
A Government spokesman said: ‘We have made clear to the US how unfortunate this leak is. The selective extracts leaked do not reflect the closeness of, and the esteem in which we hold, the relationship.
‘At the same time we have also underlined the importance of Ambassadors being able to provide honest, unvarnished assessments of the politics in their country.
‘Sir Kim Darroch continues to have the Prime Minister’s full support.
‘The UK has a special and enduring relationship with the US based on our long history and commitment to shared values and that will continue to be the case.’
Tory former foreign secretary Lord Hague told the BBC: ‘You can’t change an ambassador at the demand of a host country.
‘It is their job to give an honest assessment of what is happening in that country.’
One of Sir Kim’s predecessors today labelled the president ‘insecure’ over his handling of the row.
Sir Christopher Meyer, who was in Washington from 1997 to 2003, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It just shows President Trump’s sensitivity.
‘His insecurity, which Sir Kim himself bore witness to.’
Referring to whoever leaked diplomatic cables from Sir Kim, Sir Christopher said: ‘Here there is a possible range of villains who come into the frame.
‘But, it was clearly somebody who set out, deliberately, to sabotage Sir Kim’s ambassadorship, to make his position untenable, and to have him replaced by somebody more congenial to the leaker.’
However, one Tory Brexiteer told MailOnline on Monday that he agreed with the President and said Sir Kim would be ‘following Mrs May out the door’.
‘Theresa May has made an absolute mess of Brexit. There is no two ways about that,’ the MP said.
‘But everybody knows as well that the ambassador will be following her out the door because people are already talking about who will replace him.
‘He has got it spot on. It’s a pity we didn’t have him doing the negotiations for us with Brussels.’
British officials are investigating whether a hostile state such as Russia was behind the leak of secret diplomatic memos in which Sir Kim said Mr Trump’s administration was ‘dysfunctional’.
The Cabinet Office is leading the inquiry amid fears that the culprit could be someone intent on damaging Britain’s relations with the US.
One Whitehall source told the Mail: ‘Someone meticulously went through the cables and picked out the ones designed to cause maximum embarrassment and harm.’
A second Government source thought it looked like something ‘out of Russia’s playbook’.
Britain’s trade minister said Monday that he would apologize to Ivanka Trump for the leak, in which Darroch described the administration as ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘inept.’
The Darroch memos annoyed Trump and triggered demands on the British side to find out who had disclosed them.
Trade Minister Liam Fox, who is on a visit to Washington, told BBC radio he would apologize to the president’s daughter, whom he is due to meet during his trip. Ivanka Trump is also a senior adviser to her father at the White House.
‘I will be apologizing for the fact that either our civil service or elements of our political class have not lived up to the expectations that either we have or the United States has about their behavior, which in this particular case has lapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way,’ said Fox.
‘Malicious leaks of this nature … can actually lead to a damage to that relationship, which can therefore affect our wider security interest.’
Trump himself attacked Darroch earlier on Sunday, saying after the bombshell leak that the diplomat had ‘not served the UK well.’
Trump unloaded on Sir Kim, saying: ‘The ambassador has not served the UK well, I can tell you that.
”We are not big fans of that man and he has not served the UK well. So I can understand it, and I can say things about him but I won’t bother.’
Trump’s aides said Sir Kim’s position was no longer ‘tenable’ and they expected him to be removed.
Sir Kim’s assessments of the Trump administration in briefing notes from 2017 to the present are likely to prove highly embarrassing for the Foreign Office.
One suggests that in order to communicate with the president ‘you need to make your points simple, even blunt’.
He also says: ‘We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.’
Another note questioned whether the White House ‘will ever look competent’.
Following Mr Trump’s state visit to the UK in June, Sir Kim warned that although the president had been ‘dazzled’ by the pomp, his administration would remain self-interested and ‘this is still the land of America First’.
Nigel Farage (pictured last week) has called for Sir Kim Darroch to be replaced over his frank assessment of the state of the Trump White House
In one of the most recent documents, Sir Kim refers to ‘incoherent, chaotic’ US policy on Iran and questions Mr Trump’s publicly stated reason for calling off a retaliatory air strike against Tehran following the downing of an American drone.
Media reports of ‘vicious infighting and chaos’ were ‘mostly true’ despite the president’s attempts to brush them off, he said.
Referring to allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the memo said ‘the worst cannot be ruled out’.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, whom Mr Trump said would do ‘a great job’ as Britain’s ambassador to the US, said Sir Kim was ‘totally unsuitable for the job’.
He added in a tweet that the ‘sooner he is gone the better’.
Allies of Trump told the Daily Telegraph they believed Sir Kim could ‘no longer work wit the President’. One ex-advisor said: ‘I assume he will be removed.’
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘The British public would expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country.
‘Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House. No doubt these will withstand such mischievous behaviour.’
British ambassador’s waspish wit comes back to sting him
Sir Kim Darroch was handed one of the most prestigious jobs in the diplomatic service several months before Donald Trump entered the White House.
The Washington ambassadorship – with its lavish embassy parties – is far removed from the council flat Sir Kim grew up in on an Oxfordshire council estate.
Described as witty and humorous by those around him, he was a bright youngster and won a free scholarship to attend Abingdon School, a leading public school that charges £20,000 a year for day pupils.
‘I think I was the only person in the school uniform walking out of this council estate every morning to go to school,’ he recalled in a recent interview.
Sir Kim is pictured with his wife Lady Canessa in Washington DC in April 2016
He joined the diplomatic service in 1977 after leaving Durham University with zoology degree.
From 2007 to 2011 he served in Brussels as the UK Permanent Representative to the EU.
Knighted in 2008, the 65-year-old was David Cameron’s national security adviser from January 2012 to September 2015 before going to Washington.
He is nearing the end of his diplomatic career. In an interview last year he said, ‘I don’t want to sound all Monty Pythonesque’, before adopting a mock Yorkshire accent to add: ‘I were brought up in’ paper bag.
‘But I grew up in a council flat . . . and perhaps because of my background I never feel like I’m in a gilded cage. This job is the privilege of my life.’ Sir Kim and his wife Vanessa soon settled into the private apartment in the embassy, widely regarded as the finest in Washington DC.
His name rose to prominence after the president’s election victory when Mr Trump called for Nigel Farage to replace him as the UK’s man in Washington.
No10 was forced to insist there was ‘no vacancy’ and praised Sir Kim as an ‘excellent ambassador’.
He had earlier hit the headlines when, soon after Mr Trump’s election win, The Sunday Times reported on a secret memo in which Sir Kim apparently suggested the UK could exploit Mr Trump’s inexperience in office.
The memo said: ‘The president-elect is above all an outsider and unknown quantity, whose campaign pronouncements may reveal his instincts, but will surely evolve and, particularly, be open to outside influence if pitched right… We should be well placed to do this.’