Insults are flying across the Atlantic as Washington and London trade barbs in a hitherto-unseen, undiplomatic war of words that could put a huge strain on a longstanding Anglo-American alliance. While it is unlikely to spill into areas such as military ties, defence and intelligence sharing, any doubts that the “special friendship” between the leader of the free world and a waning Empire was heading for skid row were rekindled, when a series of memos by the UK envoy, where he trashed US President Donald Trump for being “whacky”, “inept” and “pompous” was splashed across the news.
The reaction by a clearly furious US President, not known for his diplomatic niceties when he promptly described the UK’s outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May as “foolish” has only turned the celebrated relationship completely on its head.
President Trump, who has upset nearly every leader he has interacted with, barring the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, does deserve an apology. Sir Kim Darroch’s opinion — he called Mr Trump “a very stupid guy”, who ran “a very chaotic administration” and “radiates insecurity” and “laps up one syllable fawning” — crossed every diplomatic line imaginable. The envoy, who has put in his papers but will stay on till the end of the year, braving insults like being blackballed from the White House, could fall back on the fact that it was an internal memo that should have never been made public.
Either way, as PM May stood by her man in Washington, it will be interesting to see how her possible successor Boris Johnson, who refused to comment on l’affaire Kim, deals with the rift in ties. It’s imperative that he — as much as the May administration — work on de-escalating the crisis.