How to lose friends and not influence people

HAVING THE current foreign secretary and his predecessor locked in a battle to be prime minister makes this an awkward time for Britain’s Foreign Office. To make matters worse, it now has to hunt for the mole responsible for a deeply embarrassing leak of dispatches from the country’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch. Just when it should be preparing for a post-Brexit “Global Britain”, the Foreign Office finds itself fighting fires both at home and in relations with the countries it most needs to cultivate.

In truth Sir Kim’s cables assessing President Donald Trump and his policies, covering a period from 2017 to today and leaked on July 6th in the Mail on Sunday, revealed little that has not been said frequently in the press. Still, coming from a top British diplomat, the assessments make juicy reading. Sir Kim describes the Trump administration as “dysfunctional” and “diplomatically clumsy and inept”, and does not expect that to change. A memo from June 2017 described reports of “vicious infighting and chaos” inside the White House as “mostly true”. He depicts Mr Trump as “radiating insecurity”. More recently, Sir Kim warned that, although the president may have been dazzled on his recent state visit to Britain, America would continue to follow its self-interest in negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal: “This is still the land of America First.”

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