Boris Johnson has admitted a report of his comments about Sir Kim Darroch was a “factor” in his resignation as Britain’s ambassador to the United States.
However, the Tory leadership frontrunner denied failing to give Sir Kim his backing and said his words during a televised leadership debate had been “misrepresented”.
Mr Johnson’s lack of explicit support for Sir Kim during the ITV debate on Tuesday was widely seen to have been the final straw for the envoy following the leak of his diplomatic cables criticising Donald Trump’s White House.
Furious Tory MPs accused the former foreign secretary, who is favourite to succeed Theresa May, of throwing Sir Kim “under a bus”, leaving him no option but to resign.
But in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, Mr Johnson said when he spoke to Sir Kim by telephone the ambassador told him he had not seen the debate himself although somebody had told him about Mr Johnson’s comments.
“He said that what somebody had relayed to him had been a factor in his resignation,” Mr Johnson said.
He added: “I think that unfortunately what I said on that TV debate was misrepresented to Kim.”