Leak of Diplomatic Cables Won’t Have Lasting Effect on US-UK Relationship

July 12, 2019 by HJ Mai
British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch speaks during an annual dinner of the National Economists Club at the British Embassy October 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – The diplomatic relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has been rattled by the recent leak of diplomatic cables that described the Trump administration as in a state of disarray. 

The leak led to the resignation of Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States, and represents a new low point in the relationship between the two nations. 

In the leaked documents, Darroch referred to the Trump administration as “uniquely dysfunctional,” “divided” and “inept.” 

President Donald Trump responded to the leak by cutting all diplomatic ties with the ambassador.

“The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy,” Trump followed up in a Tuesday tweet. “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.”

While the leak and subsequent resignation of the ambassador dominated the headlines on both sides of the Atlantic for several days; it is not expected to have a lasting impact on the trans-Atlantic relationship, Garret Martin, professorial lecturer at American University’s School of International Service, told The Well News.

“Ultimately, this is going to be more of a storm in a teacup because, yes, it’s embarrassing right now for the U.K., obviously no ambassador or diplomat wants their word, especially secretive analysis like that, to be revealed publicly,” Martin said.

But [Trump] does have a short attention span, and there are plenty of other problems on his mind. So I don’t think this is necessarily going to have a significant impact on the relationship between the U.K. and the United States,” he added.

Martin pointed out that it has been difficult for any Western European leader to build a productive and consistent relationship with Trump. 

“Trump is somewhat volatile … he rapidly changes his mind about people,” he said. “One day, French President Emmanuel Macron and he are best friends, and then soon after they are engaged in a Twitter feud again.” 

The president’s approach toward foreign policy is purely transactional, Martin added. He has no appreciation for America’s traditional allies. 

Nigel Sheinwald, a former British ambassador to the United States, told the Washington Post that Trump’s treatment of Darroch was “vindictive and undignified.”

“This would never have happened under any other presidency in modern times and it shows the strains in the U.K.-U.S. relationship,” Sheinwald said.

The relationship between outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May and Trump has also gone through its ups and downs. While both have publicly proclaimed a good relationship and often referred to the special bond between the U.S. and the U.K., Trump has taken several stabs at May’s failure to deliver a Brexit deal. 

In an interview with the Sun tabloid in 2018, Trump said that he told May how to get a Brexit deal done, “but she didn’t listen to me.”

During his recent trip to Britain, Trump added: “I would have sued [the European Union], but that’s okay. I would have sued and settled, maybe, but you never know. She’s probably a better negotiator than I am.”

The future of the U.S.-U.K. relationship depends on two men, whose personalities and policies divide their respective countries – Trump and former British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who is currently the front-runner to succeed May.

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