Wednesday 29 March 2017

Nigel Farage hits out after Downing Street dismisses Trump backing for ambassador role

Nigel Farage REUTERS/Toby Melville
Nigel Farage REUTERS/Toby Melville

Andrew Woodcock, Sam Lister and Ryan Wilkinson

Nigel Farage has accused Downing Street of putting its dislike for him ahead of the national interest, after aides to the Prime Minister dismissed out of hand a call from Donald Trump for him to be made the UK's ambassador to the United States.

The interim Ukip leader said it was time for Number 10 to recognise that "the world has changed", as he claimed he was "in a good position, with the President-elect's support, to help".

Mr Trump shocked Westminster with a late-night tweet declaring that Mr Farage would do a "great job" and that "many people" wanted to see him as the UK's senior diplomat in Washington.

The property tycoon's highly unusual endorsement was a fresh embarrassment for Theresa May, who was beaten to meeting the future president in person by Mr Farage.

Downing Street immediately retorted that there was "no vacancy" and praised Britain's incumbent ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch.

A No 10 spokesman said: "There is no vacancy. We already have an excellent ambassador to the US."

Mr Farage told the Press Association he was "very flattered" by Mr Trump's suggestion and was ready "to do anything I can to act in a positive way to help relationships between our two countries".

Writing later for website Breitbart - whose former executive chairman Stephen Bannon has been appointed Mr Trump's chief strategist - Mr Farage denounced what he described as "career politicians" who were pretending to be Mr Trump's friend after previously criticising him.

"The political revolution of 2016 now sees a new order in charge of Washington. In the United Kingdom the people have spoken but the players at the top have, I am afraid, stayed the same," he said.

"Those who supported Remain now hold senior positions. Worst still, those who were openly abusive about Trump now pretend to be his friend. It is career politics at its worst and it is now getting in the way of the national interest.

"I have said since the now famous photograph with Donald Trump 10 days ago that I would do anything to help our national interest and to help cement ties with the incoming Anglophile administration.

"At every stage I am greeted by negative comments coming out of Downing Street. The dislike of me, Ukip and the referendum result is more important to them than what could be good for our country.

"I have known several of the Trump team for years and I am in a good position with the President-elect's support to help. The world has changed and its time that Downing Street did too."

Mr Farage's comments may be seen as a reference to Mrs May's previous description of Mr Trump's remarks about Muslims as "divisive, stupid and wrong" at a time when he was seeking nomination as the Republican candidate for president.

Since his election, Mrs May has been careful to avoid any criticism of the president-elect, and Downing Street revealed on Monday that an invitation for a state visit to the UK is under consideration.

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