‘Boris must choose our new man in Wash­ing­ton’

Trade talks make it cru­cial for John­son to pick am­bas­sador if he en­ters No10, say al­lies

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Christo­pher Hope, Anna Mikhailova and Nick Allen

AL­LIES of Boris John­son last night in­sisted he must be free to choose the UK’S new US am­bas­sador, should he be­come prime min­is­ter, af­ter Sir Kim Dar­roch re­signed in the wake of the leaked diplo­matic ca­bles row.

Sir Kim stood down yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, say­ing his po­si­tion had been made “im­pos­si­ble” af­ter Don­ald Trump said the US would not deal with an am­bas­sador who de­scribed his ad­min­is­tra­tion as “in­ept”.

Sources close to Sir Kim claimed Mr John­son’s re­fusal to back him in Tuesday night’s Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship tele­vi­sion de­bate had prompted the de­ci­sion, with one se­nior source say­ing he was “very hurt”.

Yes­ter­day Theresa May said Sir Kim’s de­par­ture was a “mat­ter of deep re­gret” and No 10 said a new ap­point­ment would be made in due course. Sources said the process was a sim­ple one that could be ini­ti­ated be­fore the Prime Min­is­ter was due to leave of­fice.

Ju­lian Lewis, the Tory chair­man of the de­fence se­lect com­mit­tee and a John­son ally, ex­pressed con­cern there could be “temp­ta­tion for an out­go­ing prime min­is­ter to ap­point to a plum job one of her in­ner cir­cle”.

Names in the frame in­cluded Sir Mark Sed­will, the head of the Civil Ser­vice, who could be given the job as a re­ward for loy­alty to­ward Mrs May.

But sup­port­ers of Mr John­son said he must make the ap­point­ment if he be­came prime min­is­ter so as not to bind his hands in trade talks.

Mr John­son’s al­lies also sug­gested that the next am­bas­sador could be a po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee rather than a civil ser­vant – some­one who could help Mr John­son with se­cur­ing a trade deal with the US and is aligned with the new gov­ern­ment’s Brexit strat­egy.

Ed Llewellyn, David Cameron’s for­mer chief of staff who be­came am­bas­sador in Paris af­ter he left No 10, was cited by one source as a prece­dent.

One Cab­i­net ally of Mr John­son said: “If it is an am­bas­sador of the UK Gov­ern­ment, you would ex­pect the per­son who is lead­ing the Gov­ern­ment for the fore­see­able fu­ture, not just for the next two weeks, to make the ap­point­ment.”

An­other se­nior fig­ure in the John­son camp added: “It would be fair to leave that de­ci­sion to an in­com­ing prime min­is­ter, who­ever that may be, be­cause he has to have con­fi­dence in them. It is wholly in her gift now, but I don’t know what the rush is. If she does – what the hell can we do about it? Noth­ing.”

How­ever, Sir Alan Dun­can, the For­eign Of­fice min­is­ter, called on Mrs May to ap­point a re­place­ment – and “the sooner the bet­ter” – to stop Mr John­son hav­ing a say.

Mrs May quits as Prime Min­is­ter in two weeks and No 10 left open the pos­si­bil­ity that she would make the ap­point­ment her­self.

Down­ing Street de­clined to say when Sir Kim’s suc­ces­sor would be ap­pointed other than say­ing that it would hap­pen “in due course”.

The For­eign Of­fice con­firmed the process for ap­point­ing such a high­pro­file po­si­tion in the diplo­matic ser­vice was “be­spoke” and could hap­pen quicker than the nor­mal re­cruit­ment process, which usu­ally takes months. The row came as it emerged that the po­lice had been

called in over the leak of the diplo­matic ca­bles. Sir Si­mon Mcdon­ald, For­eign Of­fice Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary, told MPS yes­ter­day: “The leaker is guilty of the worst breach of trust in our ser­vice in my ca­reer. The dam­age over three days is ev­i­dent in the res­ig­na­tion of the most se­nior British diplo­mat.”

Sir Kim’s de­ci­sion to re­sign came af­ter the US pres­i­dent said that the White House would no longer have any deal­ings with him fol­low­ing the leak of dis­patches de­scrib­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion as “in­ept” and “dys­func­tional”.

The am­bas­sador re­signed af­ter Mr John­son re­peat­edly re­fused dur­ing a prime time ITV de­bate on Tuesday evening to say whether or not he would keep Sir Kim in post if he be­came prime min­is­ter.

It also emerged that Mr John­son rang Sir Kim yes­ter­day af­ter­noon to ex­press his “re­gret” over his res­ig­na­tion af­ter crit­ics said that his fail­ure to back the US am­bas­sador dur­ing a live de­bate with Mr Hunt had made Sir Kim’s po­si­tion un­ten­able.

A source who saw Sir Kim last night said: “He was very hurt. Not just be­cause it was Boris but be­cause it was a for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary re­fus­ing to back him.”

How­ever, min­is­ters and se­nior MPS who are back­ing Mr John­son to be Tory leader and thus prime min­is­ter said that Mrs May’s suc­ces­sor should hire the of­fi­cial who will play a vi­tal role in se­cur­ing a US trade deal af­ter Brexit.

Mark Fran­cois, the for­mer de­fence min­is­ter and a lead­ing Euroscep­tic, claimed that leav­ing the de­ci­sion to Mr John­son “would ob­vi­ously be the right thing to do” be­cause of the diplo­mat’s im­por­tance “re­gard­ing a fu­ture trade deal with the US”.

Mean­while, of­fi­cials were braced for a slew of new dis­clo­sures in this week­end’s news­pa­pers – in­clud­ing about Mr John­son, Iran and other min­is­ters, sources have told The Tele­graph.

Sir Si­mon said: “I’m brac­ing my­self. I fear there may be more.”

Sir Si­mon also re­vealed that Mr Trump could veto who­ever was ap­pointed to be the next UK am­bas­sador to Wash­ing­ton.

He told the MPS that the last time this hap­pened was in 1856, when an am­bas­sado­rial ap­point­ment was blocked over his links to the Crimean War.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.