So much for the ‘Special Relationship’: US President Donald Trump dissed Sir Kim Darroch, the UK’s ambassador to Washington, and cut him out of diplomatic receptions after highly embarrassing emails were leaked.
The Ambassador’s cloak has now fallen from its shoogly peg – a predictable solution in the circumstances as his position was fatally undermined.
My immediate reaction to Darroch’s remarks – that the Trump White House was “inept”, insecure and incompetent, “uniquely dysfunctional”, “faction riven” – was not so much a startling surprise as a wearisome sense of deja vu – that exactly such assessments have been pouring forth from the UK press corps and TV correspondents for the past three years.
Why did the ambassador feel it necessary to regurgitate them when the BBC’s John Sopel has supplied such portrayals so often and so vividly?
Surely a key function of an ambassador is to provide information and analysis not widely in the public domain: knowledge gained by virtue of unique access and privileged position that would be of value to the government.
An inside track, for example, would be helpful on the detail of the administration’s diplomatic strategy in China, or a more detailed account of its military thinking on Iran, or even the threats and opportunities for UK trade with the US post-Brexit. Such insights would be worth encrypting.
The candid personal views would have been better confined to a one-to-one oral briefing. Simply rehashing all-too-familiar, well-worn gossip picked up over the Ferrero Rocher doesn’t really cut it.