London, Jul 10 (AP/UNB) — Britain's ambassador to the United States resigned Wednesday, just days after diplomatic cables criticizing President Donald Trump caused embarrassment to two countries that often celebrate having a "special relationship."
The resignation of Kim Darroch came after Trump lashed out at him on Twitter, describing the ambassador as "wacky" and a "pompous fool." The criticism came after leaked documents revealed the envoy's dim view of Trump's administration, which he described as dysfunctional, inept and chaotic.
"Since the leak of official documents ... there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position and the duration of my remaining term as ambassador," Darroch said in his resignation letter. "I want to put an end to that speculation. The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like."
Prime Minister Theresa May said the resignation was "a matter of regret," underlining that "good government depends on public servants being able to give full and frank advice."
Darroch had been set to retire at the end of the year. It's unclear whether May will have time to replace Darroch before she leaves office later this month. Appointing ambassadors usually involves a formal civil service process with advertisements, applications and interviews, though Simon McDonald, head of Britain's diplomatic service, said the post of ambassador to the U.S. wasn't always chosen that way.
"History shows that there are often bespoke procedures for filling the embassy in Washington, DC," he said.
Though the matter had been brewing for days, Darroch made his decision the morning after a debate between the two contenders to replace May as party leader and prime minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.
Hunt, who is Britain's foreign secretary, had vowed to keep Darroch in the post, but Johnson pointedly did not.
"I think it's very important we should have a close partnership, a close friendship with the United States," Johnson said.
Darroch's forthright, unfiltered views on the U.S. administration — meant for a limited audience and discreet review — appeared in leaked diplomatic documents that were published in Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper.
In the leaked documents, he called the Trump administration's policy toward Iran "incoherent," said the president might be indebted to "dodgy Russians" and raised doubts about whether the White House "will ever look competent."
"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," one missive said.
Trump responded with a combined criticism of Darroch fused with a broadside at May, chiding the British leader for failing to get her Brexit deal with the European Union through Parliament.
"I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster!" Trump tweeted Tuesday. "I don't know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool."
British officials are hunting for the culprit behind the leak, which was both an embarrassment to May's government and a major breach of diplomatic security.
"We will pursue the culprit with all the means at our disposal," McDonald, the Foreign Office chief, told a committee of lawmakers.
He said it was "vitally important" that ambassadors were able to speak candidly in private.
McDonald said it was too soon to say what the fallout would be from the leak.
"Nothing like this has ever happened before. There must be consequences. What they are in detail I can't tell you this afternoon," he said.
But he said the trans-Atlantic relationship was "so deep and so wide that it will withstand any individual squall."
He also said he feared there might be more leaks to come.
Darroch has served as Britain's envoy to Washington since 2016, and the cables cover a period from 2017 to recent weeks. He was a prominent figure in Washington and popular among Trump White House officials, who were always over at the embassy for parties and events.
Trump's tweets caused fury among many British politicians and officials, who found themselves insulted by the president's decision to have the administration cut off contact their ambassador. It underscored that the close relationship between the two countries has become increasingly lopsided — a severe problem at a time the country is preparing to set out a new path with its departure from the European Union.
"It is shameful that Kim Darroch has effectively been forced out for doing the job that diplomats are appointed to do," Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted. "Boris Johnson's failure last night to stand up for him — and stand up to the behaviour of Donald Trump — spoke volumes."
But Trump supporter and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage described the resignation as, "the right decision."
He tweeted: "Time (to) put in a non-Remainer who wants a trade deal with America."
Dhaka, Jul 10 (UNB) - Workers of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage have the lowest median hourly pay of any ethnic group, in the latter case earning 20.1% less than white British workers, the first official statistics on the subject show, reports the Guardian.
The analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows significant gaps remain even when education and occupation are taken into account, particularly for those born outside the UK.
London, which has the highest proportion of people classified as being in an ethnic minority group, had the largest pay gap between white and ethnic minority groups, at 21.7%
The median pay of white British workers last year was £12.03 an hour compared with £9.60 for people of Bangladeshi ethnicity and £10.00 for those of Pakistani ethnicity – groups that also had the lowest employment rates: 58.2% for Pakistanis and 54.9% for Bangladeshis.
Dr Zubaida Haque, the deputy director of the Runnymede Trust race equality thinktank, said: “The key message is your race still dictates how much you get paid in this country. It goes against our values of social mobility and equality of opportunity. The problem is that as well as getting companies to publish the gap you have to legally ask them to publish plans as to how they are going to close that gap. Otherwise, to be honest, nothing’s going to happen.”
Haque said she had reservations about the ONS’s methodology but welcomed the fact it had addressed the issue and urged the government to swiftly implement mandatory ethnic pay gap reporting, as mooted by Theresa May last year.
White workers did not have the highest median hourly pay, with employees of Chinese, Indian or mixed or multiple ethnicity all having higher rates, although this was not the case for Chinese or Indian workers born outside the UK.
People aged 16 to 30 from ethnic minority groups tended to have narrower pay gaps than older ethnic minority groups. For instance, the difference for the Bangladeshi ethnic group compared with white British workers was 3.1% among 16- to 30-year-olds but 27.9% for those over 30.
The ONS said this could mean second-generation migrants were performing better than their parents in terms of pay or it could point to earnings progression varying between different ethnic groups.
Women in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups were significantly less likely to be in the labour force than those in other ethnic groups. The ONS suggested this could be a result of “cultural differences” as 38.1% of women from a Bangladeshi ethnic group and 32.1% of women from a Pakistani ethnic group were found to be inactive because they were looking after their family or home.
The Resolution Foundation has previously calculated that Britain’s 1.9 million black, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi employees are experiencing an annual pay penalty of £3.2bn.
Kathleen Henehan, a policy analyst at the thinktank, said: “Almost all BAME groups continue to face significant pay gaps, compared with white workers. What’s more, these pay penalties hold even after accounting for workers’ qualifications, experience and the types of jobs they do.
“Having made significant progress on shining a light on gender pay gaps within firms though equal pay audits, the government should now extend this to look at pay gaps for BAME workers, too.”
The government-commissioned 2017 report Race in the Workplace suggested equal participation and progression across ethnicities could be worth an additional £24bn a year to the UK’s economy.
The median pay rates were calculated from Annual Population Survey data. As the Bangladeshi and Chinese ethnic groups were the smallest, they were the most prone to inaccuracy, the ONS said.
The employment minister, Alok Sharma, said the statistics for under 30s suggested “generationally we are moving in the right direction” but added: “We need to stamp out all employment inequality. That is why we continue to challenge employers to explain or change the disadvantages highlighted in our race disparity audit.”
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London, Jul 10 (AP/UNB) — The two men vying to be Britain's next leader traded verbal blows in a televised debate Tuesday about who is more likely to break the country's Brexit deadlock and lead the U.K. out of the European Union.
About 160,000 Conservative Party members are voting for a successor to Prime Minister Theresa May, who announced her resignation last month after failing repeatedly to get Parliament to back her divorce deal with the EU.
The two finalists, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, both used their only televised debate to argue that they were best placed to negotiate Britain's twice-postponed exit, currently scheduled for Oct. 31.
Johnson, a populist former mayor of London whom polls suggest is the strong front-runner, argued that Britain leaving on schedule, with or without a divorce deal, is a "do or die" issue.
"Delay does not deliver a deal. A deadline will deliver a deal," Johnson said, adding that his "energy and optimism" would help Britain "get back our mojo."
Hunt, a long-serving but lusterless senior minister who is currently foreign secretary, said he offered experience, realism and a broader appeal than the divisive Johnson.
"I'll be your prime minister whoever you vote for," he said.
Unlike Johnson, Hunt said he would be prepared to delay Brexit for a short time in order to strike a deal with the EU.
That led Johnson to call Hunt "defeatist." Hunt accused Johnson of setting a "fake deadline" and asked whether he would resign if he failed to deliver on his promise to leave by Oct 31.
Johnson did not answer.
"It's not do or die is it?" Hunt snapped back. "It's Boris in No. 10 (Downing St.) that matters."
Hunt and Johnson have both vowed to succeed where May failed and take Britain out of the EU — even if that means leaving without an agreement on divorce terms and future relations.
Most businesses and economists think a no-deal Brexit would plunge Britain into recession as customs checks take effect at U.K. ports and tariffs are imposed on trade between the U.K. and the EU. But many Conservatives think embracing a no-deal Brexit may be the only way to win back voters from the upstart Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage.
Growing concern about the chance of a no-deal Brexit and signs that the British economy could be heading toward recession have weakened the pound, which fell Tuesday to $1.2440, near a two-year low.
For underdog Hunt, Tuesday's showdown offered a chance to turn the contest around, though it may be too late. Ballot papers have already gone out, and many Conservatives have made their choice.
The two candidates also faced questions about a fierce row over leaked cables from Britain's ambassador in Washington offering unflattering assessments of President Donald Trump's administration.
In the memos, Ambassador Kim Darroch called Trump's White House dysfunctional, inept and chaotic. The president let rip with tweets branding Darroch "very stupid" and "a pompous fool," and saying the administration would no longer deal with him.
Trump also renewed criticism of May's handling of Brexit. In contrast, he has spoken warmly of both Johnson and Hunt.
Hunt reprimanded Trump, saying he should not meddle in Britain's choice of ambassador.
"I have made it clear that if I am he next prime minister our ambassador in Washington stays," Hunt said.
Johnson would not commit to keeping Darroch in his post.
"I have a very good relationship with the White House," he said. "I think it's very important we should have a close partnership, a close friendship with the United States."
As the two Conservatives battled over who was the bigger champion of Brexit, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shifted his party's position, calling on May's successor to call a new referendum on Britain's EU membership, in which Labour would campaign to stay in the EU.
In a letter to party members, Corbyn said that the new prime minister "should have the confidence to put their deal, or no-deal, back to the people in a public vote."
"In those circumstances, I want to make it clear that Labour would campaign for Remain against either no-deal or a Tory deal that does not protect the economy and jobs," he said.
Labour's opponents — and many supporters — have accused the party of dithering over Brexit for fear of alienating voters on either side of the national divide over Europe. Until now, Corbyn, a longtime critic of the EU, had resisted calls for a second referendum, saying Labour must respect voters' 2016 decision to leave.
The left-of-center party has previously rejected May's deal but also ruled out leaving the EU without an agreement and called for an election that the party hopes will bring a Labour government to power.
But the party's poor showing in recent local and European elections suggests Labour is losing support to parties including the Liberal Democrats and the Greens that advocate remaining in the EU.
Corbyn's letter clarified the party's position — up to a point. It's still unclear what Labour would do about Brexit if it formed a government.
Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn, who heads Parliament's Brexit Committee, said "this is a very significant moment."
"We saw what a lack of clarity did to Labour in the European elections. We got 14% of the vote," he said.
But John Mann, a Labour legislator who backs Brexit, said the shift would cost the party support in areas of the country that voted strongly to leave the EU.
"There's no indication whatsoever that voters in my area ... have changed their mind," he said.
London, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — Prime Minister Theresa May backed Britain's ambassador to the United States on Tuesday after President Donald Trump cut off contact with him following the leak of diplomatic cables that branded the U.S. administration as "inept."
May stood by Kim Darroch amid the controversy over the release of the documents published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper. Darroch's forthright views have created awkwardness between two countries who often celebrate having a "special relationship."
As if to underscore the snub, Darroch found himself uninvited to a White House dinner held in honor of the Emir of Qatar on Monday.
While British officials hunted for the culprit behind the leak, senior Conservative Party figure and former Foreign Secretary William Hague said the government was right to back Darroch.
"You can't change an ambassador at the demand of a host country," Hague told the BBC. "It is their job to give an honest assessment of what is happening in that country."
In a series of tweets, Trump said Darroch was "not liked or well thought of" in the U.S. and also attacked May, accusing her of "making a mess" of Britain's departure from the European Union.
"The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new Prime Minister," Trump tweeted. "While I thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent state visit last month, it was the Queen who I was most impressed with!"
The tweets ratcheted up the pressure on Britain's government over Darroch, who also has been accused by some Brexit-backing U.K. politicians of lacking enthusiasm for Britain's departure from the EU.
The journalist who reported the leak, Isabel Oakeshott, is a strong Brexit backer and an ally of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who also is Britain's leading champion of Trump.
Trump has been supportive of Farage and once said he would "do a great job" as an ambassador to Washington.
Farage sidestepped that notion Monday, saying "I'm not a diplomat."
Athens, Jul 8 (AP/UNB) — Conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been sworn in as Greece's new prime minister, a day after his resounding win over left-wing Alexis Tsipras, who led the country through the tumultuous final years of its international bailouts.
Mitsotakis' New Democracy party won 39.8% of the vote, giving him 158 seats in the 300-member parliament, a comfortable governing majority. Tsipras' Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, garnered 31.5%.
Mitsotakis, 51, arrived at the presidential mansion for the official swearing-in ceremony accompanied by his wife and three children, with the ceremony conducted by Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos. He was to then head to the prime minister's office for a handover of duties, and was expected to name his cabinet later in the day.
Conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be sworn in as Greece's new prime minister later Monday after a resounding win over left-wing Alexis Tsipras, who led the country through the tumultuous final years of its international bailouts.
Mitsotakis' New Democracy party won 39.8% of the vote, giving him 158 seats in the 300-member parliament, a comfortable governing majority. Tsipras' Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, garnered 31.5%. The extremist right-wing Golden Dawn, Greece's third largest party during the height of the financial crisis, failed to make the 3% threshold to enter parliament.
Mitsotakis will have to move fast to deal with the myriad of problems still plaguing the Greek economy. Europe's finance ministers are meeting in Brussels on Monday and will be discussing Greece, which still has stringent fiscal targets to meet.