Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Trump calls UK ambassador a 'wacky, stupid, pompous fool' in Twitter tirade as leaked memo storm escalates

President Trump calls British PM 'foolish' and her handling of Brexit a 'disaster' as UK's Foreign Affairs Committee launches urgent inquiry into 'growing culture of leaks'

President Donald Trump calls UK ambassador 'wacky and pompous' and says Britain's prime minister is 'foolish' in a volley of tweets. AP 
President Donald Trump calls UK ambassador 'wacky and pompous' and says Britain's prime minister is 'foolish' in a volley of tweets. AP 

US President Donald Trump has labelled the UK ambassador "wacky, stupid and pompous" and called Britain's Prime Minister a "fool" as the diplomatic row over leaked memos escalates.

In a tirade of vitriolic tweets released midday on Tuesday, Mr Trump criticised prime minister Theresa May calling her handling of Brexit "a disaster".

The president’s comments came after secret diplomatic memos from the UK's envoy Sir Kim Darroch were leaked to The Mail on Sunday calling him incompetent, inept and insecure.

UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt hit back and said the comments were "disrespectful and wrong to our Prime Minister and my country." Mr Hunt said if he were made prime minister Sir Kim would stay as ambassador.

His rival for leadership of the Conservative party Boris Johnson refused to give a substantive answer on the affair, saying he was “not going to be so presumptuous” as to comment on Mr Darroch's departure date.

The Chair of the UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, launched an urgent inquiry on Tuesday into the leak calling for the Prime Minster, the Foreign Secretary and the police to “robustly” investigate what he called a “growing culture of leaks”. The foreign office's chief civil servant, Sir Simon McDonald, will be the first witness.

The memos had said the Trump administration was marked by “vicious infighting and chaos” before questioning whether it “will ever look competent”.

In a blistering attack on the pair, Mr Trump tweeted: "The wacky Ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy.

"He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled. I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster!

"I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.

Tell him the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World, by far and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger.....Thank you, Mr. President!"

In a series of earlier tweets Mr Trump had said his government will "no longer deal" with Mr Darroch.

The fallout from his comments were swiftly felt as US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin disinvited Mr Darroch from a dinner with the Emir of Qatar on Monday evening.

Mr Trump is hosting Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and is due to meet him on Tuesday.

He was also expected to be frozen out of a meeting with Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, who is due to meet the British trade secretary Liam Fox on Tuesday.

In a cut-throat comeback to the leaked memo fiasco, Mr Trump had earlier criticised Theresa May in tweets on Monday for her Brexit blunders.

“I have been very critical about the way the UK and Prime Minister Theresa May handled Brexit,” he said.

“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 thought of within the US. 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.

“While I thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent state visit last month, it was the Queen who I was most impressed with.”

In the memos Mr Darroch had said the administration had become “uniquely dysfunctional” under Mr Trump.

“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,” he wrote.

Mr Darroch said the American policy on Tehran was “incoherent and chaotic”, and he challenged the president’s publicly stated reason for calling off air strikes on Iran after it shot down a US drone.

Tension has been high between EU states and America on Iran, as Washington threatened more sanctions and European leaders hesitated to impose penalties, urging Tehran to keep to the 2015 nuclear deal from which America pulled out last year.

The British Foreign Office did not dispute the veracity of the memos, with a spokesman saying “we pay them [ambassadors] to be candid”.

“Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House and no doubt these will withstand such mischievous behaviour,” the spokesman said.

On Sunday night, the US president hit back, saying Mr Darroch, “has not served the UK well”, while White House aides called for the ambassador to be fired.

Earlier on Sunday, the British government announced that a formal inquiry would be held into the leaking of the memos.

“We have made clear to the US how unfortunate this leak is,” a Downing Street spokesman said on Monday, after Mr Trump’s response.

“The selective extracts leaked do not reflect the closeness of and the esteem in which we hold the relationship.”

The spokesman said that the UK government continued to support Mr Darroch.

“The UK has a special and enduring relationship with the US based on our long history and commitment to shared values, and that will continue to be the case,” he said.

Mr Trump’s criticism of Mrs May comes at a time when power is about to change hands in the UK, as the country searches for a new prime minister.

Jeremy Hunt, the British Foreign Secretary, and Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary and mayor of London, are the two candidates vying to enter Downing Street.

Mr Trump has said he wants Mr Johnson to become the next prime minister.

Updated: July 10, 2019 03:37 AM

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