Home/Daniel Larison/Trump Picks a Fight with Britain Over Nothing

Trump Picks a Fight with Britain Over Nothing

Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels in July 2018. Shutterstock/ By Alexandros Michailidis   

The president’s whining about Kim Darroch, the U.K. ambassador to the United States, has provoked the British Foreign Secretary to respond via Trump’s preferred medium:

Hunt can be horribly wrong about many things, especially U.K. arms sales to the Saudis and the UAE, but in this case he is absolutely in the right. Darroch’s leaked comments painted an unflattering picture of Trump, but everything the ambassador said is true. In his typically petty, hyper-sensitive way, the president has been tweeting insults at the ambassador for the last few days and berating May’s government in general. The president seems to think that he can browbeat the British government into recalling Darroch, but that isn’t going to happen. The Financial Timesreports:

His intervention came as Sir Kim was forced to withdraw from a planned White House meeting on Tuesday after the president stepped up his attacks on the UK’s ambassador, calling him “wacky”, “a very stupid guy”, and “a pompous fool” foisted on the US by Britain.

Ivanka Trump, an adviser and daughter of Mr Trump, had been set to meet the ambassador alongside the UK’s international development secretary Liam Fox on Tuesday to discuss deepening trading ties with the UK after Brexit.

Sir Kim decided not to go to the meeting, according to two Whitehall sources with knowledge of the situation, given the extraordinary diplomatic stand-off caused by the embarrassing leak of confidential diplomatic memos.

British diplomats said there was no prospect of Sir Kim quitting as ambassador. “I’m not sure Kim has a sword, but if he did he wouldn’t fall on it,” said one. “What a terrible precedent that would set.”

The curious thing about Trump’s whining about the ambassador is that the president has turned a relatively minor story into a much bigger one that confirms a lot of what the ambassador said about his administration. Now it is beginning to damage the relationship with the British government, which understandably isn’t throwing their ambassador to the wolves for telling the truth in a confidential cable. A minimally competent president would have said nothing and let the story fade away, but Trump is so driven by his neediness and vanity that he simply can’t leave it alone. Now that Hunt has responded directly, the fight that Trump started over nothing will likely get worse and do further harm to U.S.-U.K. ties.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles