President Donald Trump on Monday said he would “no longer deal with” the U.K.’s ambassador to the U.S. after leaked cables revealed the diplomat’s blunt assessment of the Trump administration.
In a pair of tweets, Trump bristled at Ambassador Kim Darroch’s description of him as “inept” and suggested a new British government could make changes.
“I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. 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 wrote.
The British embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Even as Trump showed his anger with being criticized by a foreign official, he went after outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose office expressed “full faith” in Darroch, over her handling of Brexit.
“What a mess she and her representatives have created. I told her how it should be done, but she decided to go another way,” Trump wrote, adding that “while I thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent State Visit last month, it was the Queen who I was most impressed with!”
I have been very critical about the way the U.K. and Prime Minister Theresa May handled Brexit. What a mess she and her representatives have created. I told her how it should be done, but she decided to go another way. I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2019
The dust-up was highly unusual for two close allies, but it showed how the leadership turmoil in the U.K. is having an effect on the transatlantic alliance.
May is stepping down after failing to deliver a Brexit plan and there was speculation in the U.K. media that the leak may have come from her political rivals amid the race to replace her.
British officials were embarrassed by the leak of Darroch’s unvarnished assessment of Trump’s leadership and were scrambling over the weekend to find the source. They also sought to do damage control with the White House.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is running for Conservative Party leader, distanced himself from Darroch’s writings, calling them “a personal view” and “not my view.”
Trade minister Liam Fox said he would offer an apology to the president’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump during a meeting in Washington.
But those efforts apparently did little to soothe Trump, who is prone to hit back at almost any perceived insult.
Darroch wrote in secret cables to top officials in London that Trump is viewed as “insecure” and “incompetent.” He said there are doubts in Washington about whether the White House “is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional, less unpredictable, less faction-riven, less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”
The U.K. Foreign Office on Sunday condemned the leak but said that ambassadors are asked to share their candid views about their countries in which they work.
“The British public would expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country,” said a spokesman for the office.
Asked Sunday about the cables, Trump told reporters that Darroch “has not served the U.K.” and added that “we’re not big fans of that man.”
“I can say things about him, but I won’t bother,” he added.
The cables were published by U.K. newspaper The Mail on Sunday and provided fresh evidence of strains in the so-called “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K. during Trump’s presidency.
Trump has repeatedly criticized May’s handling of the U.K.’s divorce from the European Union and has frustrated British leaders by pulling out of the nuclear deal with Iran and other world powers.
The president also broke diplomatic protocol ahead of his state visit there by weighing in on the race to replace May, saying the front-runner Boris Johnson would make an “excellent” Conservative Party leader.
Trump stirred controversy in 2016 by saying he would like to see pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage become the British ambassador to the U.S., tweeting that “he would do a great job!”
The president also raised eyebrows by meeting with Farage during his U.K. state visit in May.