Donald Trump called the UK ambassador to Washington a “stupid guy,” even as the British government tried to prevent the row with the US President over leaked diplomatic memos from escalating.
“The wacky Ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy,” Trump tweeted. “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.”
The latest tweets follow a tirade in which Trump froze out the envoy, Kim Darroch, tweeting that his government “will no longer deal with” him.
The spat was triggered by the publication of diplomatic cables in the Mail newspaper in which the ambassador called US president “inept” and “incompetent.”
Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday sought to quell the rising tensions. Her spokesman, James Slack, told reporters in London the “selected” memos do not reflect the closeness and esteem with which the UK holds the relationship.
“We have a special and enduring relationship with the US, and that will continue to be the case,” Slack said, adding that any decision to replace Darroch lies with the UK, not the US. The ambassador has and will continue to have the government’s “full support,” he said.
The UK government was in contact with the US on both Monday and Tuesday, he said. “We have also underlined the importance of ambassadors being able to provide honest, unvarnished assessments of the politics in their country,” Slack told reporters.
In his tweets, Trump also criticised May over her handling of Brexit. “What a mess she and her representatives have created,” he said.
Handling the fallout of a major diplomatic spat with Britain’s most important foreign ally will be an early headache for either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, who are vying to replace Theresa May as prime minister and were expected to almost certainly face questions on the matter at a televised debate on Tuesday.
The Cabinet Office is leading a cross-government investigation into the leak of the memos, which were published in the Mail newspaper and included Darroch calling Trump’s White House “uniquely dysfunctional.”
Hunt, the UK foreign secretary, acknowledged the possibility that the leak might be the result of a hack by a hostile government.
“Of course it would be massively concerning if it was the act of a foreign, hostile state,” he told The Sun newspaper. “I’ve seen no evidence that that’s the case, but we’ll look at the leak inquiry very carefully.” Hunt also distanced himself from Darroch’s communications, calling them “a personal view.”
Trump made a state visit to the UK last month and met with May, who will step down after failing to persuade parliament to adopt her Brexit plan. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said UK diplomats are expected to be candid in reports back home and described the leak of Darroch’s communications as “mischievous behaviour.”