9 July 2019

All observers know that what the British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, said about Donald Trump and his White House in secret, classified messages to the Foreign Office is true. (Extracts from them leaked to the pro-Brexit Mail Online were published on 7 July 2019.) In fact, it’s been so fully broadcast for so long that one wonders why Sir Kim bothered to add his voice to this deafening chorus at all. But he did and his position has now been made acutely uncomfortable by the leak. Predictably, Trump – in the process confirming the common judgement of him – has now publicly returned the insults in tweeted spades. What should be done? The UK government has rightly stood by its first-rate ambassador and refused the demands of ranting right-wing journalists like Piers Morgan to withdraw him, meanwhile looking for the real culprit, the source of the leak. If the Trump administration wishes to see the back of Darroch it’s up to the State Department simply to declare him persona non grata and give him a week or so to pack his bags and leave.  By that time, the UK will have a new prime minister, the Trump-fawning Boris Johnson, who is as glaringly unfit for his office as Trump is for his. The ‘special relationship’ will then no doubt be given a steroid injection by a new ambassador, for as a self-obsessed opportunist Johnson would have no scruple about calling back Darroch in order to insert another Brexiter in his place. Who might this be? Nigel Farage, the English nationalist and spiv who leads the Brexit Party and is another Trump groupie, has been widely canvassed, not least by the US president himself. The idea might also appeal to Johnson since it would have the added advantage of removing his greatest rival for the support of those in the UK who still – in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary – regard Brexit as the political and economic equivalent of the Second Coming of Christ. Getting rid of powerful rivals at home by giving them a plush berth abroad has a long history in diplomacy. On the other hand, the prospect of Farage at the Washington embassy would horrify the Foreign Office and politicise Whitehall even more, so even Johnson might jib at this. Besides, it might not necessarily suit Farage to accept any such offer. Let’s hope that Darroch, who retires at the end of the year anyway, is eventually replaced by another career diplomat. Besides, with the renewed attention given to the fact that in the past Johnson himself – in a rare moment of insight – has publicly described Trump in unflattering terms, might lead Britain’s next prime minister to conclude that removing from public office someone guilty of more moderate criticism of the man-child in private might not be such a good idea after all. In 2015, Boris Johnson described Donald Trump as ‘out of his mind’ and betraying ‘stupefying ignorance’.

Post script: Only minutes after uploading this blog I learned that Sir Kim Darroch had resigned. The last straw for him was the failure of the contemptible Boris Johnson – despite being pressed on the point in last night’s Tory leadership TV debate with Jeremy Hunt – to confirm that he would support him in continuing at the Washington embassy should he become primes minister, as is widely expected, in less than a fortnight.