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Ambassadors test – and strengthen – the Special Relationship

By Sir Robert Worcester, founder of MORI and the best known pollster in the UK
Published on October 16, 2019

It’s not easy, being an Ambassador for your country. A few months ago, July 10th to be exact, the British Ambassador to the United States, Britain’s top diplomatic post, resigned his post. To quote The Economist, July 13th, 2019, his departure came days after the Mail on Sunday published a selection of his cables that were highly critical of President Donald Trump. In the end, Sir Kim Darroch was undone by a one-two from the West’s leading populist duo, Mr. Trump himself and his apprentice, Boris Johnson. He resigned. The Economist article reported that “The furore will test the “special relationship” on which Western defence is founded, as it has not been tested for many years.”

Sir Robert Worcester Sir Robert Worcester

There’s another Johnson in London, the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s. He too has been speaking out in a way that I’ve not seen an American Ambassador speak in my fifty years of living in this, my adopted country, following Boris Johnson’s treatment at the hands of Luxembourg’s prime minister. In The Daily Telegraph of 18 September, American Ambassador ‘Woody’ Johnson castigated Xavier Bettel, the Luxembourg prime minister, accusing him of “disrespecting” Britain after he forced Mr [Boris] Johnson to hold a news conference in a street full of anti-Brexit protesters, prompting the British Prime Minister to pull out. Speaking bluntly, intending to be speaking under “Chatham House Rules” (in which remarks made in a speech may be quoted, but not the name of the speaker), he lashed out at Bettel’s action saying in a show of solidarity that “We stand with the people of the UK and we always will”. He praised Mr. Johnson’s handling of the situation, insisting that “he knew he was walking into a trap. He knew this was a set-up. Of course he knew, but he’s British. He said ‘What the hell, I can do this.’”

Addressing a Conservative Foreign & Commonwealth Council at the private Carlton Club in Pall Mall, the ambassador said that while ”some had cast doubt” on the British people’s decision to leave the EU, “the US administration believes it’s the start of a new golden era for the UK.” He said “The people who built the greatest empire, the people who held off the Nazis, who contributed so much to the progress of mankind, you can go down a long list – they don’t need a lecture from anybody on how to run their country, and that includes Brussels”.

Well said, Mr. Ambassador.


Sir Kim Darroch Sir Kim Darroch (second from right) former British Ambassador to the United States, at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois

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