U.K. ambassador to U.S. resigning after cables critical of Trump leaked
'The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role'
Kim Darroch, the U.K.'s ambassador to the United States, has announced he's resigning, after diplomatic cables critical of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump were leaked.
"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," Darroch said in his resignation letter released by the Foreign Office.
"I want to put an end to that speculation. The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.
"Although my posting is not due to end until the end of this year, I believe in the current circumstances, the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador."
In one of the memos leaked Sunday, Darroch described the U.S. administration as "diplomatically clumsy and inept," and said he doubted it would become "substantially more normal." In response, Trump went to Twitter to label him "stupid" and "wacky."
Prime Minister Theresa May, who had given Darroch her full support, told Parliament after the resignation was announced that she had spoken to Darroch, 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.
Darroch said he is "grateful to all those in the U.K. and the U.S. who have offered their support during these difficult few days. This has brought home to me the depth of friendship and close ties between our two countries. I have been deeply touched.
"I am also grateful to all those with whom I have worked over the last four decades, particularly my team here in the U.S. The professionalism and integrity of the British civil service is the envy of the world. I will leave it full of confidence that its values remain in safe hands."
A U.S. State Department spokesperson, speaking after Darroch's resignation, said "the United States and the United Kingdom share a bond that is bigger than any individual, and we look forward to continuing that partnership."
"We remain committed to the U.S.-UK special relationship and our shared global agenda."
'Professionalism and intellect'
Jeremy Hunt, the current foreign affairs minister who along with Boris Johnson is vying to replace May as Conservative Party leader and prime minister, said he was outraged the confidential memos were leaked, leading to Darroch's resignation.
"Whenever I visited Washington as foreign secretary, I was struck by Sir Kim's professionalism and intellect," Hunt said in a statement. "I am outraged that a selection of his reports should have been leaked."
Meanwhile, Junior Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan said Johnson threw Darroch "under the bus" when he refused to back the envoy in his row with Trump.
Showing the anger within his department at the treatment of Darroch, Duncan told the BBC that Johnson had failed to back Darroch during a televised debate late on Tuesday in order to serve his own personal interests.
Johnson is the favourite to become the next prime minister.
"He has basically thrown this fantastic diplomat under the bus to serve his own personal interests," Duncan said.
But during a campaign visit on Wednesday, Johnson said Darroch is "a superb diplomat." Johnson also said whoever leaked the documents "really has done a grave disservice to our civil servants, to people who give impartial advice to ministers."
"It is not right that civil servants' careers and prospects should be dragged into the political agenda," Johnson said.
Simon McDonald, the permanent undersecretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and head of the Diplomatic Service, accepted Darroch's resignation "with deep personal regret," he said in a statement.
"The prime minister, foreign secretary and whole of the public service have stood with you: you were the target of a malicious leak; you were simply doing your job.
"I understand your wish to relieve the pressure on your family and your colleagues at the embassy; I admire the fact that you think more of others than yourself. You demonstrate the essence of the values of British public service."
McDonald, the top civil servant in the Foreign Office, said there is no evidence that hacking was involved in the leaking of diplomatic memos, but an investigation is ongoing.
Appearing before a parliamentary select committee, McDonald said he did not believe the U.S. was involved in the interception of the documents that criticized Trump.
Asked whether the U.S. could have been involved, he said: "My personal view is 'no' — we have a very close relationship with the United States and we do not spy on each other."
With files from The Associated Press