Boris Johnson Has Refused To Say If He’ll Keep The British Ambassador Who Upset Trump In His Job

    The Tory leadership frontrunner dodged a question about Sir Kim Darroch.

    Alex Edelman / DPA / PA Images

    Boris Johnson with Sir Kim Darroch in 2017.

    Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to become Britain’s next prime minister, has refused to say whether he will keep the UK’s ambassador to the US in post — after leaked emails revealed he had labelled the Trump administration “inept”, prompting a furious response from the president.

    Johnson was asked outright at ITV’s head-to-head debate on Tuesday evening whether Sir Kim Darroch would remain in post until the end of the year if Johnson became PM.

    He replied simply that he would “not be so presumptuous” as to assume he would remain in his job. “I and I alone will decide who takes important and politically sensitive jobs,” he added.

    His leadership rival Jeremy Hunt, however, pledged that he would keep Darroch in his job until he wanted to leave. “He is due to retire at Christmas and I will certainly keep him until then,” he said.

    Johnson was backed by MP supporters Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary.

    Hancock repeatedly refused to say whether Darroch should remain in post, telling ITV's Good Morning Britain: "The relationship is much bigger than any individual person."

    And Raab told BBC's Newsnight that Darroch should have 'tried to avoid personalised stuff" in his diplomatic cables.

    But current prime minister Theresa May has fully backed the UK’s ambassador after leaked diplomatic memos, published in the Mail on Sunday, showed that he had called Donald Trump “inept”, “insecure”, and “incompetent”.

    Since the news broke, Trump has not held back in his criticism of Darroch and May herself on Twitter.

    The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was...

    ...handled. I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster! I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool. Tell him the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World, by far...

    Hunt, the foreign secretary, hit back at Trump on Twitter on Tuesday.

    1/2 @realDonaldTrump friends speak frankly so I will: these comments are disrespectful and wrong to our Prime Minister and my country. Your diplomats give their private opinions to @SecPompeo and so do ours! You said the UK/US alliance was the greatest in history and I agree... https://t.co/hNeBWmyyVN

    2/2...but allies need to treat each other with respect as @theresa_may has always done with you. Ambassadors are appointed by the UK government and if I become PM our Ambassador stays.

    On Wednesday, former Tory prime minister Sir John Major also backed Darroch, saying he was "doing precisely what he was instructed to do" and accusing Johnson of "throwing him to the wolves".

    "We really cannot have our ambassadors chosen by host governments; he should not be forced out of his office," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

    And Simon Fraser, former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, offered his full support to Darroch, accusing the person who leaked the memos of causing "damage on many levels".

    The Ambassador may now regret his choice of words in a world of leaks. But the leaker is the culprit: guilty of a major breach of trust & confidentiality; possibly a crime. The President is wrong to insult the Prime Minister & malign the Ambassador. Result: damage on many levels.

    Nick Boles, an independent MP who used to be a Conservative, also called on Johnson to support Darroch, saying it was important that foreign leaders did not “pick and choose” British ambassadors.

    “Is dancing to the tune of this very volatile American president more important to him than standing up for the independence of the United Kingdom?" Nick Boles says Boris Johnson should condemn President Trump’s comments about British ambassador Kim Darroch.



    Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Emily Ashton at emily.ashton@buzzfeed.com.

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