Trump blasts ‘foolish’ UK PM May and her ‘wacky’ envoy over leaked memos

Theresa May and US President Donald Trump during happier times in London earlier this year. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 09 July 2019
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Trump blasts ‘foolish’ UK PM May and her ‘wacky’ envoy over leaked memos

  • Theresa May has given her full support to Washington envoy Kim Darroch after he described Trump’s administration as 'dysfunctional'
  • Timing of the discord comes as Britain is hoping to strike a major trade deal with its closest ally

LONDON: US President Donald Trump lashed out at “foolish” British Prime Minister Theresa May and her “wacky” Washington ambassador on Tuesday, stepping up a tirade against a close ally whose envoy had branded his administration inept.
May has given her full support to Washington envoy Kim Darroch after he described Trump’s administration as “dysfunctional” and “diplomatically clumsy and inept” in memos that were leaked to a British newspaper on Sunday.
While ministers and May’s spokesman have stated the leaked cables were only a partial reflection of Darroch’s assessments and did not reflect the government’s views, they have infuriated Trump who fired off a second series of scathing tweets.
“The wacky Ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy,” Trump wrote, describing Darroch as a “pompous fool.”
“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. I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way — was unable to get it done. A disaster!“

May is due to leave office this month and has previously clashed with Trump over issues from Muslim relations to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
However, the timing of the discord comes as Britain is hoping to strike a major trade deal with its closest ally after it leaves the European Union, an exit scheduled for Oct. 31.
The two contenders to replace May, former London mayor Boris Johnson and foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, have both indicated they could support leaving the EU without a deal, making a future agreement with the United States even more important.
Johnson, the favorite in the race, hinted that he shared Trump’s view of May’s handling of Brexit and said the United States would remain Britain’s top military and political partner.
“I’ve got a good relationship with the White House and have no embarrassment in saying that,” he told BBC TV. “I myself have said some pretty critical things about the Brexit negotiations so far.”
But his rival, Hunt, challenged Trump, saying his comments were “disrespectful and wrong” to May and the country.
“You said the UK/US alliance was the greatest in history and I agree,” he said on Twitter. “But allies need to treat each other with respect as @theresa_may has always done with you. Ambassadors are appointed by the UK government and if I become PM our Ambassador stays.”
Britain’s trade minister Liam Fox said he would apologize to Trump’s daughter Ivanka whom he was due to meet during a visit to Washington this week. Darroch had been due to attend that meeting but has now pulled out, the BBC reported.
On Monday, Trump had tweeted that he would no longer deal with the diplomat and that it was “good news” that Britain would soon have a new prime minister.
Before Trump’s latest broadside, May’s spokesman said Darroch would stay in place with the government’s full support and that envoys had to feel confident they could share their frank assessments.
“She (May) said we had made clear to the US how unfortunate this leak is, and that the extracts were selective and do not reflect the closeness of our relationship,” the spokesman said.
In his confidential memos dating from 2017 to the present, Darroch had said reports of in-fighting in the White House were “mostly true” and last month described confusion within the administration over Trump’s decision to call off a military strike on Iran.
“We don’t really believe this Administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept,” Darroch wrote in one cable.
British officials have launched an inquiry to find out who was responsible for the leak.
Christopher Meyer, a former British ambassador to Washington, said there was a “possible range of villains.”
“It was clearly somebody who set out deliberately to sabotage Sir Kim’s ambassadorship, to make his position untenable and to have him replaced by somebody more congenial to the leaker,” he told BBC radio.


Villagers angry as Portugal wildfire still rages

A villager tries to extinguish a wildfire at the village of Chaveira, near Macao, in central Portugal on Monday, July 22, 2019. (AP)
Updated 11 min 34 sec ago
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Villagers angry as Portugal wildfire still rages

  • By evening, the fire was only 70% under control because of the strong winds and high temperatures, Civil Protection commander Pedro Nunes said, adding there were currently no homes or villages at risk

VILA DE REI/MACAO, Portugal: After more than 50 hours, firefighters were still battling a wildfire in central Portugal late on Monday, as villagers and local authorities blamed a lack of resources and government inaction for the damage caused by the flames.
So far, 39 people had been injured, including one who was in serious condition. Portugal’s Civil Protection department said some villagers had been evacuated as a precaution and houses had been destroyed.
The fire was small in comparison with a massive blaze that hit the same region in June 2017, killing 64 people and burning about 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) in a few days. That was the worst disaster in modern Portuguese history.
Data from the European Union fire-mapping service showed about 8,500 hectares (21,000 acres) burned over the weekend.
Civil Protection said earlier on Monday that the fire, which broke out on Saturday afternoon, was 90% under control, but warned that the remaining blazes required “a lot of attention” as the winds whipped up later in the day, fanning the flames in tinder-dry conditions.
By evening, the fire was only 70% under control because of the strong winds and high temperatures, Civil Protection commander Pedro Nunes said, adding there were currently no homes or villages at risk.
“The worst-case scenario happened,” said Nunes. He said firefighters would adopt techniques overnight to put out the flames, including using four bulldozers provided by the armed forces.
Even though humidity is expected to remain low, the wind is set to lose strength in the early hours of Tuesday, which could help firefighters end the wildfire, Nunes added.
Covered in eucalyptus and pine trees, central Portugal is frequently hit by summer blazes, with hilly terrain making it especially difficult for firefighters to reach.

’THERE WAS NO ONE’
Villagers, as well as authorities in Macao and Vila de Rei, areas in the heart of the fire zone, said there were not enough firefighters and resources to combat the flames.
Sheep farmer Joaquim Ribeiro told Reuters there were no firefighters when the blaze arrived at his village in Macao, forcing him to transfer his animals elsewhere. “It was pandemonium.”
Another sheep farmer, Fernando Cardoso, said he rushed to a nearby fire station as the flames approached his village but the firefighters told him they could not help until given the green light.
“The fire appeared out of nowhere,” he said. “When we got here, there were flames everywhere, no place to turn, no firefighters, there was no one.”
Local authorities have also pointed the finger at Portugal’s Socialist government, led by Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
Speaking to Lusa news agency, the deputy mayor of Vila de Rei, Paulo Cesar, accused the government of not being able to prevent wildfires.
“The municipality is fed up with these successive fires linked to criminal activity and is fed up of seeing the state fail again,” he said.
Asked by reporters about the complaints, Costa said the mayors were “primarily responsible” for protecting their own municipalities from wildfires through “proper management of their territory.”
Internal Administration Minister Eduardo Cabrita said police had opened an investigation into the fires. Portugal’s judiciary police have collected evidence and artifacts that could be related to the fires’ origin, an official told Lusa news agency.
In a statement, police said a 55-year-old man was detained on suspicion of starting a blaze in the Portuguese district of Castelo Branco. But a police source, quoted by Portuguese newspaper Observador, said the detention was not related to the fires in question.
The police did not reply to a Reuters request for comment.
Civil Protection said 1,079 firefighters were on the ground, backed up by 347 firefighting vehicles.
Spain said late on Monday that it was sending two aircraft to help tackle the fires in Portugal.