July 10, 2019 / 11:51 AM / 9 days ago

British ambassador resigns after Trump row: how special is the U.S.-UK relationship now?

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s ambassador to Washington resigned on Wednesday after Donald Trump labeled him “stupid” and “wacky” following the release of confidential memos from the envoy in which he branded the U.S. president’s administration inept.

FILE PHOTO - U.S. and British flags stretch along The Mall towards Buckingham Palace in central London in advance of U.S. President Donald Trump State visit to Britain, London, Britain June 2, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The row over the leaked memos are a further blow to relations between the allies. Britain’s so-called special relationship with the United States was one of the most enduring alliances of the 20th century, though Brexit and Trump’s presidency have raised questions about its future.

Here are some key moments of the relationship between the two countries during Trump’s presidency:

January 2017 - Prime Minister Theresa May becomes the first foreign leader to visit Trump in Washington after he took office.

February 2017 - May says Trump’s order temporarily banning people from a number of Muslim-majority countries is “wrong” and “divisive”.

March 2017 - May’s spokesman dismisses as “ridiculous” charges that Britain’s GCHQ spy agency helped tap Trump’s phones during the 2016 presidential election campaign. The spokesman says the White House promised not to repeat the allegation.

May 2017 - British police halt intelligence-sharing with the United States after the name of the suicide bomber who attacked a pop concert in Manchester was leaked to U.S. media. Trump calls the leaks “deeply troubling”.

June 2017 - Trump criticizes London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, on Twitter following a deadly attack by three Islamists on the British capital. He accused Khan of making a “pathetic excuse” after the mayor urged Londoners not to be alarmed by extra police on the streets. May says Khan, a member of the opposition Labour Party, is doing a good job.

August 2017 - After a rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia in which a neo-Nazi drove a car into a crowd, killing a woman, May rebukes Trump for saying counter-protesters were also to blame for the violence.

September 2017 - Following the attempted bombing of a train in London, May says it is unhelpful for anyone to speculate about the attack after Trump tweets that London police had the suspects in their sights.

November 2017 - Trump shares anti-Muslim videos on Twitter posted by the deputy leader of a British far-right group, something May’s spokesman said he was wrong to do. Trump responded “Theresa @theresamay, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom”.

December 2017 - May’s spokesman says Britain disagrees with Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region,” the spokesman said.

January 2018 - Trump cancels a trip to London to open a new embassy, saying he did not want to endorse what he understood was an Obama-era decision to move out of the old one.

May 2018 - Britain, France and Germany urge Iran to remain in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after Trump declared that he was withdrawing from the agreement, opening a trans-Atlantic rift over how to deal to prevent the country gaining nuclear weapons.

July 2018 - Trump delivered a withering verdict on Britain’s Brexit strategy in an interview published just hours before holding talks with May in London, saying her strategy would “kill” any chance of a trade deal with the U.S. and said she had not listened to his advice on how to negotiate with the EU.

Hours later he changed tack, praising May and saying there could be a great deal, while tens of thousands of people joined protests against his visit denouncing his policies as divisive.

May 2019 - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attacked Britain over its attitude toward China and Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker, saying it could impede Washington’s sharing of intelligence with London. The warning came after Britain’s preliminary decision to allow China’s Huawei a restricted role in building parts of its 5G network.

June 2019 - Trump accused May of botching Britain’s negotiations to leave the EU and said the next British leader should send arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage to conduct talks with the EU.

July 2019 - Britain’s ambassador to the United States, Kim Darroch, described Trump as “radiating insecurity” and his administration as diplomatically “clumsy and inept” in private correspondence leaked to a British newspaper.

In his rebuke, Trump said the United States would no longer deal with the ambassador. He later branded May “foolish” for not following his advice on Brexit negotiations with the European Union and described Darroch as “wacky”, “a very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool”.

Darroch resigned a day later, saying the current situation made it impossible for him to carry out his role.

Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Jon Boyle

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