Watch again: UK PM May thanks Darroch for 'lifetime service' following his resignation

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May in parliament on July 3, 2019.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May in parliament on July 3, 2019. Copyright  UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS
Copyright  UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS
By Alice Tidey with Reuters
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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May thanked Sir Kim Darroch for his "lifetime service" to the UK on Wednesday after the Foreign Office announced he had resigned as ambassador to the US following a diplomatic cables leak.


Watch May answer questions in parliament in the player above or by clicking here.

With only two weeks left as British Prime Minister, Theresa May on Wednesday took questions in parliament, which were overshadowed by the fallout of a diplomatic cables leak that has strained relations with the US.

Secret messages in which the UK ambassador to Washington Sir Kim Darroch described US President Donald Trump and his administration as "inept," "insecure," and "incompetent" were released by the Daily Mail on July 7.

May had so far stood by her man in Washington, saying Darroch had her "full support" but the Foreign Office announced on Wednesday that Darroch had resigned.

Read more: Sir Kim Darroch, the UK's ambassador to the US, resigns after row over leaked Trump emails

Trump lashed out at them both on Tuesday, branding Darroch "wacky," "very stupid," and "pompous," adding that May's handling of the situation was "foolish".

'Full and frank advice'

May started her address by thanking Darroch for his "lifetime of service to the UK," adding: "We owe him an enormous debt."

She also seemingly took a swipe at her likely successor, Boris Johnson, by saying that the country relies on "public servants" who should be able to give "full and frank advice."

Johnson, who was Britain's foreign minister for two years, refused to say whether he would keep Sir Kim Darroch in his position if he was to clinch the country's top job during a live televised debate on Tuesday. He stressed, instead, that it was important for the UK to have a "close relationship with the US."

Read more: UK's Johnson and Hunt clash over Brexit, Trump in first TV debate

His opponent in the race for the prime ministership, current foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, meanwhile, called on Trump to "respect" the UK, insisting Darroch would stay in his post if he was to succeed May.

May added however that "whichever of the candidate wins" will be "an excellent" prime minister.

Antisemitism and Islamophobia

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn also deplored Darroch's resignation, lauding him for his “honourable and good service.”

But he attacked May instead on inequalities and reduced access to legal aid — a governmental service to help those who can't afford to pay their legal fees — which he said has disproportionally affected the poor and disabled.

May retorted that before attacking her on her track record, the Labour leader should deal with his party's antisemitism scandal, to which he said May should have investigated Islamophobia in her Conservative party.

May's Brexit deal

Ian Blackford, the Westminster leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) criticised Johnson for not sticking up for Darroch but chose to quizz May on the economy, arguing her legacy will have been to drive "the UK economy off the cliff and into a recession."

"You have sacrificed the jobs and likelihood of people across the UK in order to satisfy your Brexiteer backbenchers," he said.

But May said the economy is fairing well and said that it would be doing better if the SNP had backed the Brexit deal she put in front of the House three times.


She also used that line of defence when Labour MP Justin Madders urged her to tell the two candidates vying her job to ensure the country does not crash out of the European Union without a deal in order for jobs at the Vauxhall manufacturing plant in his constituency to be saved.

"The honourable gentleman could have voted to save jobs in his constituency. It's no good Labour MPs trying to deny this. They had the opportunity, three times, to vote to leave without a deal," she said.

She also told MPs it is "imperative to deliver on the referendum" and that "it is up to my successor" to deliver Brexit.

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