BORIS JOHNSON has been accused of throwing Britain’s US ambassador ‘under the bus’ after the diplomat quit over his leaked critical comments about Donald Trump.
Sir Kim Darroch said yesterday he was stepping down six months earlier than planned because it had become ‘impossible’ to carry on his duties amid the row over the secret memos.
But sources close to the 65-year-old, who called Mr Trump ‘inept’ and ‘insecure’ in the leaked papers, said he had felt forced to resign because Mr Johnson (above) had refused to back him.
The frontrunner in the race to replace Theresa May as prime minister had refused six times to promise Sir Kim’s job was safe during Tuesday night’s ITV debate with rival Jeremy Hunt.
Sir Alan Duncan, minister for Europe and the Americas, told the BBC: ‘For someone who wants to lead, let alone unite, the country, that was contemptible negligence.
‘He has basically thrown this fantastic diplomat under the bus to serve his own personal interests.’
Independent MP Nick Boles said: ‘Boris Johnson isn’t even PM yet and he is already responsible for a grievous blow to the UK’s international reputation.’
Tory Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Commons foreign affairs committee, tweeted: ‘Leaders stand up for their men. They encourage them to try and defend them when they fail.’
Sir Kim wrote that the Trump White House was dysfunctional and advised officials to ‘keep your points simple, even blunt’ if they were given an opportunity to speak to the president.
Mrs May and foreign secretary Mr Hunt said they stood by him and blamed the leaker, saying diplomats were paid to give honest opinions.
But Mr Trump responded by saying he would refuse to have dealings with Sir Kim — branding him ‘wacky’, ‘very stupid’ and a ‘pompous fool’.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said, in the light of Mr Johnson’s refusal to back Sir Kim, Britain had effectively let another nation decide who represents it abroad.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed: ‘Boris Johnson’s refusal to support Kim Darroch shows he won’t stand up to Donald Trump, or stand up for Britain.’
And Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘Boris Johnson’s failure to stand up for him — and stand up to the behaviour of Donald Trump — spoke volumes.’
During a visit to a Wetherspoon’s pub in London with the chain’s Brexiteer chairman Tim Martin, Mr Johnson brushed off the criticism.
He said Sir Kim was a ‘superb diplomat’, adding: ‘I think whoever leaked his diplomatic telegrams really has done a grave disservice to our civil servants, to people who give impartial advice to ministers. It is not right that their careers and prospects should be dragged into the political agenda.’
Health secretary Matt Hancock, a leading backer of Mr Johnson, defended him. He said it was crucial to repair the damage done by the leak because US ties were ‘our most important diplomatic relationship’.
Republican senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, blamed the media for Sir Kim’s exit. He tweeted: ‘Kim Darroch did an outstanding job as ambassador and sorry to see he has resigned his post. He got a raw deal from the press.’
Head of the diplomatic service Sir Simon McDonald confirmed police have joined the Foreign Office hunt for the leaker. Criminal prosecution could result if the culprit is found, he said.
He told the foreign affairs committee that never before in his 37 years at the Foreign Office had a head of state refused to deal with an ambassador.
Sir Kim resigned because he was worried that ‘as long as he remained in Washington he would be a target, and his family with him’, he added.
Mrs May told the Commons the resignation was a ‘matter of great regret’, adding: ‘The whole cabinet rightly gave its full support to Sir Kim on Tuesday.
‘Good government depends on public servants being able to give full and frank advice.’
She is considering a plan to fast-track appointing the new ambassador so the next PM won’t get a say, ITV News reported.
Sir Kim said: ‘The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.’