Trump hits back after UK’s top envoy calls his Iran policy ‘incoherent’
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Trump hits back after UK’s top envoy calls his Iran policy ‘incoherent’

US president says Ambassador Kim Darroch has ‘not served the UK well’ after leaked memos show he called administration ‘dysfunctional, clumsy’

British Ambassador Kim Darroch hosts an event at the British Embassy in Washington, October 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)
British Ambassador Kim Darroch hosts an event at the British Embassy in Washington, October 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

US President Donald Trump hit back on Sunday and the UK launched an inquiry after leaked memos revealed Britain’s ambassador in the US had described the president and his White House as “inept” and “uniquely dysfunctional.”

Trump said Ambassador Kim Darroch had “not served the UK well” and that he and his administration were “not big fans” of the envoy.

Darroch had said Trump’s presidency could “crash and burn” and “end in disgrace,” according to a cache of secret cables and briefing notes sent back to Britain seen by the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

“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 allegedly wrote in one dispatch.

US President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before departing for his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The paper said the most damning comments by Darroch described Trump, who was received by Queen Elizabeth II during a state visit to Britain just last month, as “insecure” and “incompetent.”

A memo sent following the controversial visit said the president and his team had been “dazzled” by the visit but warned Britain might not remain “flavour of the month” because “this is still the land of America First.”

He reportedly wrote that the “vicious infighting and chaos” inside the White House — widely reported in the US but dismissed by Trump as “fake news” — was “mostly true.”

Asked about the leak, Trump told reporters in the US: “The ambassador has not served the UK well, I can tell you that.

“We are not big fans of that man and he has not served the UK well. So I can understand it, and I can say things about him but I won’t bother.”

The UK foreign ministry said it would carry out a formal investigation into the leak.

Jeremy Hunt, the UK foreign minister, distanced himself from Darroch’s remarks, saying: “It’s really important to say that the ambassador was doing his job as an ambassador which is to give frank reports and personal opinions about what’s happening in the country where he works, and that’s his job to send back those reports but they are personal opinions, not the opinions of the British Government, not my opinion.

“And we continue to think that under President Trump the United States administration is both highly effective and the best possible friend of Britain on the international stage.”

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt speaks to the media at Stansted Airport, north of London on June 3, 2019. (ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)

Darroch is one of Britain’s most experienced diplomats whose posting in Washington began in January, 2016, prior to Trump winning the presidency.

The Mail on Sunday said the memos, likely leaked by someone within Britain’s sprawling civil service, cover a period beginning in 2017.

In one of the most recent reported dispatches filed on June 22, Darroch criticized Trump’s fraught foreign policy on Iran, which has prompted fears in global capitals of a military conflict, as “incoherent” and “chaotic.”

He allegedly said the president’s assertion that he called off retaliatory missile strikes against the Iranian regime after a US drone was shot down because it risked killing 150 Iranians, “doesn’t stand up.”

“It’s more likely that he was never fully on board and that he was worried about how this apparent reversal of his 2016 campaign promises would look come 2020,” Darroch reportedly stated, referring to the next presidential election.

Queen Elizabeth II speaks with President Donald Trump during an event to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth, England, June 5, 2019 (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Britain’s Foreign Office did not dispute the veracity of the memos.

“The British public would expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country,” a spokeswoman said.

“Their views are not necessarily the views of ministers or indeed the government,” she added, noting “we pay them to be candid.”

“Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House and no doubt that these will withstand such mischievous behavior,” the spokeswoman said of the potential fallout from the leak.

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