LONDON — Leaked diplomatic cables reveal that Britain’s ambassador to the United States regards President Donald Trump’s administration as inept, hobbled by infighting, and unlikely to improve.
The memos published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper contain highly critical comments from Ambassador Kim Darroch about the current state of Trump’s government, providing a rare look at how a senior British diplomat views the government of Britain’s closest ally.
“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,” Darroch wrote in one of a series of leaked documents covering the period from 2017 to the present.
Britain’s Foreign Office did not challenge the authenticity of the leaked documents. It called the leak “mischievous behavior” and said the public expects diplomats to provide honest assessments of the politics in the countries where they are posted.
Justice Secretary David Gauke called the leak “disgraceful” but said Britain “should expect our ambassadors to tell the truth, as they see it.”
The memos also characterized Trump’s policy on Iran as “incoherent, chaotic.” Trump has frustrated European allies by withdrawing the United States from a complex deal designed to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons and has seemed in recent weeks to be on the verge of armed conflict with Iran.
The ambassador said he did not believe Trump’s public explanation for calling off a planned military strike against Iran last month.
Darroch said there are doubts about whether the White House “will ever look competent” and that the only way to communicate with the president is by being simple and blunt.
He said that while Trump had been “dazzled” by British pageantry on a state visit hosted by Queen Elizabeth II in June, the successful visit would not lead to a fundamental shift in Trump’s priorities.
“This is still the land of America First,” he wrote.
Darroch’s views may lead to some awkwardness, especially since Trump said shortly after his election in 2016 that Brexiteer Nigel Farage would make an excellent British ambassador to the United States.
Trump has not hesitated to inject himself into Britain’s political fray, repeatedly criticizing Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit negotiating strategy and praising both Farage and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a strong contender to become the next prime minister.