Donald Trump has said he wishes Britain’s US ambassador Sir Kim Darroch well following his dramatic resignation in the wake of the leak of his diplomatic cables.
Sir Kim announced on Wednesday that he was quitting, saying his position had become “impossible” following a furious tirade from the president denouncing him as a “pompous fool” and a “very stupid guy”.
Mr Trump had been enraged by Sir Kim’s leaked dispatches branding his administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional”.
But speaking to reporters in Washington on Friday, Mr Trump said he had since learned that Sir Kim had also said “some very good things” about him.
“I wish the British ambassador well. Some people just told me – too bad – they said he actually said some very good things about me,” he said.
“I guess I quoted (Republican Senator) Lindsey Graham today. He said some things that were pretty nice from the British ambassador.
“I wish the British ambassador well but they have got to stop their leaking problems there just like they have to stop them in our country.”
Mr Graham, an ally of Mr Trump, said he believed Sir Kim had had a “raw deal” from the press, with “selective” coverage of his cables.
“Kim Darroch did an outstanding job as ambassador and sorry to see he has resigned his post,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
“Ambassador Darroch always understood the strength of President Trump and referred to him as the ‘Terminator’ who is indestructible and will most likely be re-elected.”
There will be relief in Whitehall that the row over Sir Kim’s cables appears to have had no lasting impact on relations with the US, coupled with concern that his resignation may have been unnecessary after all.
The last straw for Sir Kim was said to have been Boris Johnson’s refusal to back him in the Tory leadership debate on Tuesday, leaving him without the support of the favourite to be the next prime minister.
Mr Johnson’s actions were widely criticised by MPs, with some Tories accusing him of throwing Sir Kim “under a bus”.
In contrast, his rival for the leadership, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, gave his strong backing to Sir Kim, insisting diplomats had to be able to give ministers their “unvarnished” assessments.
In a message to Foreign Office staff, Mr Hunt said: “I remember meeting a veteran Chinese politician who gave me some of the best advice of my career: ‘Every time somebody who works for you speaks up to disagree with you, remember that they are risking a bit of their own career to help yours’.
“Sir Kim Darroch embodied this trait, and all of us are deeply proud of the distinguished service he gave us over many years.
“So please keep speaking up without fear or favour, remembering that the UK Government alone will determine appointments based on our national interest alone.”