LONDON – The British Foreign Office is scrambling to stem damage to its relations with Washington and find the leaker of cables in which the UK ambassador called the Trump administration “Dysfunctional” and “Inept.”
The cables were published in the Daily Mail on Sunday newspaper — have created awkwardness between two countries that are longtime allies.
British officials said they were hunting for the culprit behind the leak, which was both an embarrassment to Prime Minister Theresa May’s government and a major breach of diplomatic security.
Ambassador Kim Darroch has served as Britain’s envoy to Washington since 2016, and the cables cover a period from 2017 to recent weeks.
President Donald Trump threatened Monday to cut off contact with Britain’s ambassador tweeting Monday “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the US. We will no longer deal with him.”
“We are not big fans of that man and he has not served the UK well. So I can understand it, and I can say things about him but I won’t bother.”
The cables release come just a month after Trump’s state visit to Britain during which he visibly enjoyed himself while dining with Queen Elizabeth II and touring Buckingham Palace with his family.
They also threaten to complicate London’s efforts to strike a new trade deal with Washington that could help mitigate potential damage from Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday that he needed to find out how it happened, not least to give confidence to our teams all over the world that they can continue to give us their frank assessments.
Conservative U.K. lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, who chairs Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said he had written to the chief of London’s Metropolitan Police asking for a criminal investigation into the leak.
It’s possible the leaker could be charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act, which bars public servants from making “damaging” disclosures of classified material. Breaching the act carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, though prosecutions are rare.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there would be “very serious consequences” if the culprit was caught.
He said the ability to communicate frankly was “fundamental” to diplomacy.
Source: AP, Daily Mail