Kim Darroch resigned as UK ambassador to the US after his memos characterising US President Donald Trump and his administration as "inept" and "dysfunctional" were leaked, enraging London's political and diplomatic class.
Britain's ambassador to Washington resigned on Wednesday after his confidential memos branding US President Donald Trump's administration as inept.
Memos from Kim Darroch were leaked to a British Sunday newspaper, infuriating Trump who launched a stinging Twitter attack on both the envoy and British Prime Minister Theresa May who had given him her full support.
In a growing spat between the two close allies, Trump said he would no longer deal with Darroch and called May "foolish". In his resignation letter, Darroch said his position was no longer tenable.
"Since the leak of official documents from this Embassy there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position and the duration of my remaining term as ambassador," he wrote.
"I want to put an end to that speculation," he added. " The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like."
In his confidential memos dating from 2017 to the present, Darroch, 65, had said reports of in-fighting in the White House were "mostly true" and last month described confusion within the administration over Trump's decision to call off a military strike on Iran.
TRT World spoke to Olly Barratt for more on the story.
"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," Darroch wrote in one cable.
May told parliament that ministers had expressed their backing for Darroch, a career diplomat who was due to leave his post anyway at the end of the year.
"I have told him it is a matter of great regret that he has felt it necessary to leave his position as ambassador to Washington," she said. "The whole cabinet rightly gave its full support to Sir Kim on Tuesday."
...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...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2019
The souring of relations between Britain and the United States comes at a particularly unwelcome time for London, which is mired in the details of how and when to leave the European Union, a departure currently scheduled for October 31.
Britain is hoping to strike a major post-Brexit trade deal with Washington as one of the upsides of leaving the bloc.
May herself is due to step down as prime minister by the end of July and while one of the two contenders to replace her, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, had said Darroch should keep his job, the other, frontrunner Boris Johnson, had pointedly declined to do so.
Britain's political and diplomatic class angry at Darroch exit
The resignation has infuriated London's diplomatic and political class.
Senior figures in May's government and the opposition Labour Party accused Boris Johnson, favourite to be next prime minister, of contributing to the resignation by failing to back Darroch.
Here are some of the reactions:
UK PM Theresa May
"I have spoken to Sir Kim Darroch, I have told him it is a matter of great regret that he has felt it necessary to leave his position as ambassador to Washington," May told the House of Commons as lawmakers shouted "shame" and "disgrace".
"Good government depends on public servants being able to give full and frank advice ... I hope the House will reflect on the importance of defending our values and principles, particularly when they are under pressure."
Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt
"I am outraged that a selection of his reports should have been leaked."
"I profoundly regret how this episode has led Sir Kim to decide to resign. He deserves to look back upon his career as a servant of Britain with the greatest satisfaction and pride."
Conservative Lawmaker Alan Duncan
"He (Boris Johnson) has basically thrown this fantastic diplomat under the bus to serve his own personal interests."
"His sort of disregard for Sir Kim Darroch and his refusal to back him was, in my view, pretty contemptible but also not in the interests of the country he is trying to lead."
British Trade Minister Liam Fox
"I was with Sir Kim last night in Washington. In a very difficult period, he was showing his customary professionalism."
"Somebody has, for whatever malicious reasons, sought to either damage the UK-US relationship or indeed Sir Kim personally. I don’t know what the motivations would be at this stage but it is very important that we find out who actually carried out this particularly damaging act."
"It is important that our ambassadors are able to write frankly to politicians.
If they have to do so worrying about how it might look in a newspaper it will represent a fundamental change in how our diplomatic system operates."
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn
"Boris Johnson's refusal to support Kim Darroch shows he won't stand up to Donald Trump, or stand up for Britain. Johnson wants a sweetheart trade deal with Trump that would open our National Health Service to U.S. corporate takeover. I'll never let another country's leader choose who represents the UK."
Head of UK's Diplomatic Service Simon McDonald
"The leaker is guilty of the worst breach of trust in our service in my career.
The damage after three days is evident in the resignation of the most senior British diplomat."
"The last time I know that we had difficulty with the United States was 1856 when the incumbent was accused of recruiting Americans to fight on the British side in the Crimean War when Franklin Pierce was in the White House."
Ex-UK ambassador Christopher Meyer
"I am extremely angry that a good man has been brought down by a terrible leak of highly classified documents and by a president as vindictive and spiteful as Kim Darroch said he was in his highly classified communications."
UK's top civil servant Simon Fraser
"It's a very serious situation because the consequences for the relationship with the United States, which were already difficult under the current president, are clearly very significant. This is the last thing you want in the relationship between two very close allies."