Politics

UK rushes to repair US relations after email leak brands White House 'inept' and 'divided'

Key Points
  • The U.K. has rushed to repair its cherished special relationship with the U.S. after an email leak showed Britain's ambassador to the U.S. calling the Trump administration "inept" and "uniquely dysfunctional."
  • International Trade Minister Liam Fox said Monday that the leak of confidential emails could harm U.K.-U.S. relations relations.
  • The emails were reportedly written by the U.K.'s Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, July 5, 2019, where he responded to questions about the ambassador email leak.
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The U.K. has rushed to repair its cherished special relationship with the U.S. after an email leak showed Britain's ambassador to the U.S. called the Trump administration "inept" and "uniquely dysfunctional," among other unflattering terms.

International Trade Minister Liam Fox said Monday that the leak of confidential emails, that were published on Sunday, from the U.K.'s Ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch, could harm U.K.-U.S. relations relations.

The move comes after a British newspaper published leaked comments by Britain's Ambassador to the U.S. to senior officials in London in which he says that media reports of "vicious infighting and chaos" inside the White House are "mostly true," and that President Donald Trump's career could end in "disgrace."

Regarding allegations of collusion between the Trump administration and Russia to influence the 2016 U.S. election, Darroch also said that "the worst cannot be ruled out," the Mail on Sunday quoted Darroch as saying.

In other "leaked secret cables," the newspaper said Darroch described Trump's apparent indecision regarding the U.S. response to Iran's shooting down of a U.S. military drone last month as "36 hours of contradictory messaging and decisions."

The ambassador also said that President Trump and his team had been "dazzled" by their recent state visit to the U.K. but that while "we might be flavor of the month, but this is still the land of 'America First'." He also told officials in London that in order to communicate efficiently with Trump "you need to make your points simple, even blunt."

On Monday, U.S. International Trade Minister Liam Fox rushed to repair Britain's blushes at the leak, saying he would apologize to Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump when he meets her during his current visit to Washington.

"I will be apologizing for the fact that either our civil service or elements of our political class have not lived up to the expectations that either we have or the United States has about their behavior, which in this particular case has lapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way," he told the BBC Monday.

He called the leak of the emails as "malicious" and said "leaks of this nature are unprofessional, unethical and unpatriotic and can actually lead to a damage to that relationship which can therefore affect our wider security interest."

President Trump has already responded to the less than flattering comments by the diplomat, saying, that "the ambassador has not served the U.K. well. I can tell you that. We're not big fans of that man … So, I can understand it and I can say things about him as well, but I won't bother."

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What is the special relationship?

'Mischievous behavior'

The diplomatic embarrassment for the U.K. comes after the Mail on Sunday exposed what it called "leaked secret cables" and "briefing notes" from the experienced and distinguished diplomat Kim Darroch.

In the missives to London, Darroch was quoted as warning that allegedly states that: "We don't really believe this Administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept."

He also said that he doesn't think Trump's White House will 'ever look competent' although he acknowledged that Trump may well win a second term in office and that despite controversies that have surrounded the president, Darroch wrote he might nonetheless 'emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like [Arnold] Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of The Terminator'.

CNBC's affiliated network NBC News confirmed the authenticity of the leaked documents, according to a source with knowledge of the documents. NBC News also reached out to the ambassador and White House for comment.

On Sunday, the U.K. Foreign office issued a statement which did not deny the veracity of the leak but said that diplomats like Darroch were meant to give candid opinions.

"The British public would expect our Ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country," the Foreign Office said Sunday. "Their views are not necessarily the views of ministers or indeed the government. But we pay them to be candid. Just as the U.S. Ambassador here will send back his reading of Westminster politics and personalities."

"Of course, we would expect such advice to be handled by ministers and civil servants in the right way and it's important that our ambassadors can offer their advice and for it remain confidential. Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House and no doubt that these will withstand such mischievous behavior," the Foreign Office said.