Sir Kim Darroch, the UK’s ambassador to the US, resigned after memos in which he called Donald Trump “inept” were leaked. Tory leadership contender Boris Johnson came under fierce criticism after he failed to pledge his support for Sir Kim during ITV’s leadership debate on Tuesday night. Referring to the resignation on BBC Politics Live, presenter Andrew Neil said: “It has been, more than others a political appointment. So it wouldn’t be beyond the norm to put in a political appointment.”
Guardian columnist Dawn Foster began: “No it wouldn’t, but equally leaving it to a complete and utter clown like Boris Johnson – “
The BBC host interjected: “You call him a clown, but the point is if he becomes the Prime Minister, it’s his job, it’s within his right, to appoint the British ambassador to our most important ally.”
Ms Foster argued: “And it’s Theresa May’s job as Prime Minister, at the moment, to also do it.”
The BBC presenter questioned: “She was within her right but would it be proper, given that she’s gone in two weeks?”
BBC news: Andrew Neil scoffed at the columnist over her Boris Johnson claim
BBC new: the clash took place on BBC Politics Live
Ms Foster hit back: “I think so, you’ve asked for my opinion and I’ve just given it to you.”
Mr Neil remarked: “But you’ve only said if there was any prospect that Theresa May was going to appoint Nigel Farage as our ambassador, you would be against it immediately.”
The author replied “maybe, maybe not”, before the BBC host scoffed: “Really? You’d be in favour of it? Yeah right.”
In a letter to the head of the Foreign Office, Sir Simon McDonald, Sir Kim said the current situation had made it “impossible” for him to carry out his job.
BBC news: Dawn Foster referred to Boris Johnson as a “complete and utter clown”
He said he believed it was “responsible” for a new ambassador to take his place. He wrote: “Since the leak of official documents from this Embassy there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position and the duration of my remaining term as ambassador.
“I want to put an end to that speculation. The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like. Although my posting is not due to end until the end of this year, I believe in the current circumstances the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador.
“I am grateful to all those in the UK and the US, who have offered their support during these difficult few days. This has brought home to me the depth of friendship and close ties between our two countries. I have been deeply touched.
BBC news: Andrew Neil claimed it is within Boris’ “right” if he becomes Prime Minister
“I am also grateful to all those with whom I have worked over the last four decades, particularly my team here in the US. The professionalism and integrity of the British civil service is the envy of the world. I will leave it full of confidence that its values remain in safe hands.”
Mr Johnson described Sir Kim as a “superb diplomat and I worked with him for many years”. He said: “I think whoever leaked his diptels really has done a grave disservice to our civil servants, to people who give impartial advice to ministers.
“I hope that whoever it is, is run down, caught and eviscerated, quite frankly, because it is not right that advice to ministers that civil servants must be able to make in a spirit of freedom should be leaked.
“It is not right that civil servants’ careers and prospects should be dragged into the political agenda.”