TOM LEONARD: Why Trump’s friends flock to Sir Kim’s lavish parties?
TOM LEONARD: If Sir Kim was so scorned, why DID so many of Trump’s friends from Steve Bannon to Kellyanne Conway flock to his lavish embassy parties?
Despite President Trump’s insistence that Sir Kim Darroch was ‘not well liked or well thought of within the US’, there were a lot of White House senior aides who begged to differ.
A steady stream of big guns – including former strategist Steve Bannon and presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway – flocked to his lavish embassy parties.
Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, the gilded First Couple of the Trump administration, regularly graced the British embassy and Sir Kim with their attendance.
Like the fictional ambassador in the Ferrero Rocher adverts, his receptions in our magnificent embassy building that is the envy of Washington were known for their ‘exquisite taste’.
Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President Trump and Uk Ambassador to US, Kim Darroch at an embassy function in Washington
In the imposing Edwin Lutyens-designed property – with a grand ballroom and Palladian terrace –Washington’s power-brokers craned to hear his famously witty toasts. Not bad for a boy whose mother moved him into a flat on a council estate when she and his father split when he was aged just six.
Unlike the traditional public school then Oxbridge background of most mandarins who are given Britain’s most prestigious diplomatic posting, Sir Kim once recalled a childhood being ‘the only person in the school uniform walking out of this council estate every morning to go to school’.
Trump declared that he will no longer speak to Britain’s man in Washington, banning him from a formal White House dinner on Monday
He won a free scholarship to the local public school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, before getting a place at Durham University to read zoology.
Before his Washington posting, he was secretary of the National Security Council under prime minister David Cameron and played a central role on issues such as the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Russian aggression in Ukraine, the nuclear threat from Iran and the collapse of government authority in Libya.
Despite Trump’s withering put-downs of him, veterans of Washington’s diplomatic world insist Sir Kim is far more down-to-earth than some of his supercilious predecessors.
One of his predecessors, Sir Peter Westmacott was nicknamed ‘Sergeant Wilson’ after Captain Mainwaring’s unctuous ex-public schoolboy No 2 in Dad’s Army.
‘He was much less posh than the others and he can be quite self-deprecating,’ said one.
Patriotically, the 65-year-old uses a Union Jack case for his iPhone and its ringtone is the Led Zeppelin song Houses Of The Holy – the lyrics of which include the line ‘there ain’t no use in crying ‘cause it will only, only drive you mad.’ He liked to deliver speeches at the embassy under his favourite picture, Andy Warhol’s pop art rendition of the Queen.
Given that the job of the British ambassador in Washington is essentially to fawn, flatter and shamelessly curry favour with the White House administration, Sir Kim was judged to have done a good job.
Sir Kim Darroch resigned as the UK’s ambassador to the US today after he said the leaking of his memos had made his job ‘impossible’
The British embassy is not as politically important as it once was but he and his wife Vanessa (who have two children) restored some of its lost kudos by throwing a string of parties where he assiduously courted members of the Trump administration.
However, this followed a bumpy start to their relationship.
More from Tom Leonard for the Daily Mail…
Expecting Hillary Clinton to win the presidential election, UK diplomats had built strong links with her team – much to Trump’s irritation.
Sir Kim soon made up for his error. He even hosted an engagement party for two junior Trump officials. To many, they seemed rather minor dignitaries for the British ambassador, but it appeared to be all part of a strategy to love-bomb Team Trump.
The same year , the embassy hosted 790 ‘socials’ – from coffee mornings to grand soirees – and Sir Kim believes he attended 90 per cent.
Once asked if this carousel of entertaining was excessive, Sir Kim borrowed from Monty Python’s ‘Yorkshiremen sketch’ and replied: ‘I were brought up in paper bag. But I grew up in a council flat . . . and perhaps because of my background I never feel like I’m in a gilded cage. This job is the privilege of my life.’
Inevitably, such a high-flyer has had his enemies. Among them –apart from the person who leaked his cables – are Nigel Farage and Craig Murray, Britain’s maverick former ambassador to Uzbekistan.
Murray, who blew the whistle on how Britain allegedly stood idly by as American soldiers tortured terror suspects, has described Sir Kim as ‘a rude and aggressive person, who is not pleasant at all to his subordinates.’
He said he rose to prominence within the Foreign Office under New Labour at a time ‘when support for the Iraq War was an important asset to career progress, as was the adoption of a strange “laddish” culture led from No 10 by Alastair Campbell, involving swearing, football shirts and pretending to be working class.’
Boris Johnson walks with Darroch during his time as Foreign Secretary back in November 2017
He added: ‘At a time when news management was the be-all and end-all for the Blair administration, Darroch was in charge of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s media department.
‘I remember being astonished when, down the telephone, he called me “f***ing stupid” for disagreeing with him on some minor policy matter.’
Murray added: ‘Most senior ambassadors used to have interests like Chinese literature and Shostakovich. Darroch’s are squash and sailing. He is a bull of a man. In my view, the most likely source of the leaks is a former subordinate taking revenge or a present one trying to get rid of an unpleasant boss.’
Farage has similarly strong views. He claimed that while EU ambassador, Sir Kim once went into his Brussels office and Farage said: ‘It was one of the most unpleasant conversations I’ve ever had.’
He said: ‘During our conversation, I said to him: “You’re a professional civil servant, aren’t you supposed to be neutral?” He replied: “No. It’s our policy that the European Union is a good thing.” I asked him to leave. I couldn’t see the point in even continuing to have the conversation.’
It didn’t help that Trump once suggested that Farage was a better candidate for the ambassador’s job than Sir Kim.
Famously discreet (at least when he’s not writing Foreign Office presidential briefings), Sir Kim ignored the snub and diplomatically praised Trump. He said: ‘I have met him seven or eight times and always found him to be absolutely charming. What I find about this administration is that they are mostly Anglophiles and always good at hearing contrary opinions.’
However, after being described by Trump as a “wacky”, “very stupid” and “pompous”, Sir Kim Darroch must be shell-shocked. But always the seasoned diplomat, he will no doubt not let it show.
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