Planned Brexit trade talks between Liam Fox and the US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross have been cancelled, amid escalating tensions following the release of UK diplomatic memos calling Donald Trump “incompetent”, “inept”, and “insecure”.
A spokesperson told The Independent that the Commerce Department is working to reschedule the meeting, but did not provide an explanation as to why the Tuesday meeting had been called off.
The cancelled meeting comes amid diplomatic uproar over the leaked emails, in which Sir Kim Darroch disparaged the American president. In the diplomatic fallout that has ensued, Mr Trump has called Sir Kim “a very stupid guy”, said the US could no longer work with him, and attacked Theresa May, illustrating the severity of the sudden rupture in the so-called special relationship between the two countries.
As Mr Fox was dispatched on Tuesday to apologise directly to Mr Trump’s adult daughter, Ivanka Trump, No 10 indicated that Sir Kim would not take part in the trade negotiations previously scheduled for the day.
“The wacky Ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled,” Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning. “I told [Ms May] how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster! I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool Tell hi the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World, by far and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger.”
Mr Trump’s attacks on Ms May and Sir Kim failed to excite much of a response from No 10, but were met with strong pushback from Jeremy Hunt, who called the comments “disrespectful and wrong”.
In a series of tweets directed at the American president, Mr Hunt said: “Friends speak frankly so I will: these comments are disrespectful and wrong to our Prime Minister and my country.”
He continued: “Allies need to treat each other with respect as [Ms May] has always done with you. Ambassadors are appointed by the UK government and if I become PM our Ambassador stays.”
The head of the diplomatic service, Sir Simon McDonald, is scheduled to appear before MPs on Wednesday, when he will give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee regarding the leaked emails from Sir Kim.
MPs have also written a letter requesting an investigation into the “serious criminal act”.
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