Karen Pierce is set to become the first woman to serve as the UK’s ambassador to the US, it was announced today.
Dame Karen, who is currently representing Britain at the UN, will replace Lord Darroch after his extraordinary public spat with Donald Trump.
She will take up the job when the appointment is rubber-stamped by Washington. However, that is thought to be a formality, with the president having previously praised her as ‘fab’.
The government is hoping that the change will mean a fresh start as they launch negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal.
Dame Karen said she was ‘honoured’ to be playing a part in the UK’s ‘single most important relationship’.
Boris Johnson hailed her as ‘outstanding’, while Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said she was the right person to start a ‘new chapter’ in the Transatlantic alliance.
Lord Darroch’s time as ambassador descended into turmoil last summer after secret diplomatic cables were leaked in which he gave a withering assessment of the ‘inept’ US administration.
Mr Trump – who had previously lobbied for Nigel Farage to be the UK’s man in Washington – branded him a ‘very stupid guy’ while the White House retaliated by insisting it would not work with him any more.
Although the UK government defended Lord Darroch in public, he later announced he was standing down as his job had become ‘impossible’.
Dame Karen, 60, has been at the Foreign Office for nearly 40 years.
Her most recent posting was as ambassador to the UN, where again she was the first female to hold the post.
She was credited with helping marshal a tough international response to Russia’s nerve agent atrocity in Salisbury, with the US joining in expulsions of Moscow diplomats.
The mother-of-two is married to fellow senior civil servant Charles Roxburgh.
Mr Johnson tweeted: ‘@KarenPierceUN is an outstanding and accomplished diplomat and I can think of no better person to drive forward our hugely important relationship with the United States at this time.
‘I’m delighted she’ll be representing us in Washington.’
Mr Raab said today: ‘It is a time of huge opportunity for the friendship between the UK and US and I am delighted that Karen Pierce will take forward this exciting new chapter in our relationship.
‘We’re proud to be sending to Washington such an outstanding diplomat, and I warmly congratulate her on her appointment.’
Dame Karen said: ‘I am honoured to have been asked to represent the UK in the US. I think it is the UK’s single most important relationship. There is a deep bond between Britain and the US, built on many pillars.
‘We have a fantastic cross-Government team across the US and I look forward to working with them to strengthen and even further deepen the special relationship between our two countries and peoples.’