Lord Darroch, who quit his post after a series of explosive memos were published which found that he had called President Donald Trump ‘inept’, ‘insecure’ and ‘incompetent’, is being blamed for much of the trade deal impasse No10 is experiencing with the Biden administration.
A report by the Policy Exchange think-tank which will be published tomorrow argues that the British Embassy under Lord Darroch’s control’ failed to adjust swiftly enough’ to the 2016 referendum on EU membership.
Lord Darroch made an ‘underwhelming’ attempt to engage the US Congress and build support for a deal among the Democrats, who criticised Mr Johnson’s repeated threats to flout international law by breaking the Good Friday Agreement to secure a deal with the EU in September.
The report, written by senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Ben Judah, argues the Irish government damaged perceptions of Brexit in the US even further in the absence of a ‘strong and proactive British voice’.
It also blasts the Embassy’s weak and slow-footed communications operation, which struggled to fight back against ‘negative coverage [of Brexit] from elite US media’ and generally suffered from a ‘culture of caution and a fear of failure or embarrassment in UK officialdom’.
Lord Darroch, who quit his post after a series of explosive memos revealed that he had President Donald Trump as ‘inept’, ‘insecure’ and ‘incompetent’, is being blamed for much of the trade deal impasse No10 is experiencing with Joe Biden’s administration
Responding to the scathing report, Lord Darroch told the Sunday Times that ‘many of these accusations are just plain factually wrong’ and said that ‘perceptions among Democrats on Brexit were shaped overwhelmingly by the political chaos going on in London’.
The report by Policy Exchange, of which Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove was a chairman, comes as US officials pour cold water on the chances of a trade deal with Britain any time soon.
According to the Sunday Times, the paper has been looked at closely by policy advisers in Downing Street – while senior Tories including Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, have been briefed. A spokesperson for Downing Street declined to comment.
The Policy Exchange report also argues that Britain has ‘fallen behind’ France and Germany in influence among Washington think tanks, with almost all Mr Biden’s senior foreign policy hires coming from think-tanks including the prestigious Brookings Institution.
The report describes the British approach to US think-tanks as ‘ad hoc and disjointed’, pointing out that London spent £20million on think-tank donations between 2014 and 2018 but achieving less impact than France, which spent just £2million in the same period.
It argues: ‘Britain’s image problem in Washington is now interfering with real-world UK diplomacy. Above all, it is affecting the appetite and sense of urgency in Congress for a trade deal with the UK.’
Downing Street is studying a damning report that blames Britain’s former ambassador to Washington for Boris Johnson’s failure to secure a lo post-Brexit trade deal with the US
The report by Policy Exchange, of which Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove was a chairman, comes as US officials pour cold water on the chances of a trade deal with Britain any time soon
A Foreign Office spokesperson called the report ‘evidence-lite’, adding: ‘We don’t recognise this characterisation of the relationship. Our productive early discussions with President Biden and his team, have reinforced the many values and priorities we share.’
In a statement released by the Foreign Office, Lord Darroch said: ‘I can only speak for my time there, but I spent several hours every week on the Hill and saw dozens of senators and congressmen, including all the senior figures – and I could produce evidence to prove it.
‘We also had a highly effective congressional team who were in daily contact with staffers across both houses.
‘The lack of a proactive voice on Northern Ireland is nonsense – I saw members of the Congressional Friends of Ireland frequently and we cultivated the Special Representative on Northern Ireland when there was one (Trump didn’t appoint one for much of his term).
‘And I did numerous public appearances and seminars on Northern Ireland issues, especially on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.’
In July last year the Mail on Sunday revealed Lord Darroch, then Sir Kim, had described President Trump as ‘inept’, ‘insecure’ and ‘incompetent’ in a series of explosive memos.
In secret cables and briefing notes Lord Darroch warned London that the White House was ‘uniquely dysfunctional’ and that the President’s career could end in ‘disgrace’.
After the leak, Mr Johnson, then running for the Conservative leadership, repeatedly refused to say that he would keep him in post during a TV debate, in contrast to his opponent Jeremy Hunt.
In an interview with the Times, Lord Darroch said he later told Mr Johnson that he was in part to blame after the Prime Minister questioned why he had quit.