Boris Johnson reveals he rang ousted Ambassador in shameless bid to dodge blame

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Boris Johnson revealed tonight he has phoned Sir Kim Darroch as he shamelessly tried to dodge responsibility for the Ambassador’s resignation.

The Tory leadership frontrunner has been blamed for the senior diplomat’s decision to quit as envoy to Washington after he refused to say he would keep Sir Kim in his post.

But he told a Tory hustings in Kent: “I rang Kim yesterday and said how much I regretted his resignation which indeed I do.”

And he denied he was responsible – instead accusing political rivals of “politicising” the Ambassador’s departure.

He claimed Sir Kim was “the victim of a very unpleasant stunt” by the leaker adding: “Whoever leaked that those diptels deserves to be hunted down and prosecuted.”

Sir Kim Darroch has resigned as UK Ambassador to the US

Mr Johnson claimed he would stand up to President Trump as Prime Minister, saying: “I will stand up for our fantastic diplomats across the world.

 

“I just don’t think their careers should be used as political footballs.”

But he said he had to protect the Special Relationship – the “single most important strategic fact of the 20th Century.”

And recalling comments in 2015, when he branded Trump “clearly out of his mind”, he admitted: “That was then.”

Mr Johnson said it is vital that diplomats “speak without fear or favour to their political masters” who then decide what to do with the information.

He added: “I would repeat the point that I made when I talked to him yesterday – I think it is absolutely vital that brilliant ambassadors like Kim are able to speak their minds without fear or favour.

“I think the real culprit in all this is the person who chose to leak confidential advice given by a great civil servant to the Government and to ministers.

“That is really corrosive of trust in the civil service.

“We need to find whoever did it, hunt them down and prosecute them.”

When asked whether it was fair that some are blaming him for Sir Kim’s departures, Mr Johnson said: “I get blamed for lots of things.”

Jeremy Hunt said he had written to top UK diplomats across the globe to voice support for them after Sir Kim quit.

He told them: “You must carry on giving us your frank opinions just as you did before.”

He denied the scandal had “diminished the office of Prime Minister”.

Mr Hunt, who told the TV debate on Tuesday that he would keep the ambassador in place until his planned retirement at Christmas, said he was “very sad”, adding: “I wish he was still in his job because he is a fine diplomat.”

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