Saturday 10 December 2016

Farage warns of Trump team anger over UK cabinet 'insults'

Shaun Connolly

Published 14/11/2016 | 02:30

Nigel Farage posted this image on Twitter of his meeting with Donald Trump at Trump Tower at the weekend
Nigel Farage posted this image on Twitter of his meeting with Donald Trump at Trump Tower at the weekend

Controversial Ukip leader Nigel Farage has hinted that British government ministers are sounding him out about dealing with Donald Trump, as he revealed the US president-elect's close advisers have "reservations" about Theresa May's cabinet.

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The interim Ukip leader, who became the first British politician to meet Mr Trump since his shock victory, insisted he would act as a bridge between Downing Street and Trump Tower if he was called on to do so.

"I am not going to go into whatever private phone calls I may, or may not, have had with individual ministers," Mr Farage said when asked whether he had contact with cabinet figures regarding his close ties to the incoming Republican president.

"It would appear that the apparatchiks in Downing Street keep saying very negative things about me. I'd have thought that's just a little bit short-sighted, frankly," he added in a In a pointed swipe at No 10 officials who have dismissed his links to Mr Trump.

"I would have thought, in the national interest, they perhaps ought to bury their personal enmity towards me and we ought to have a constructive conversation."

Mr Farage disclosed that members of the president-elect's inner circle were concerned about unflattering comments made by British cabinet ministers, though Mr Trump told him he had a "nice" phone call with Mrs May.

"He said he had a nice conversation, although some of his team had reservations about what members of the cabinet have said during the election. Believe you me, his team are conscious of the comments," Mr Farage said.

The pair met at Trump Tower in New York and spent more than an hour discussing the president-elect's victory, global politics and the status of Brexit, according to Ukip.

Mr Farage used US media appearances to warn Mrs May that she needed to "mend fences" with Mr Trump after the "quite rude" things said about him by leading Tories.

Rude

"I think he has got to meet her. Mrs May's team have been quite rude about Trump, so there are some fences to be mended," he said when asked on Fox News why the president-elect should meet the PM after the things senior Tories had said about him.

Downing Street moved to try to play down the significance of the Ukip leader's meeting with Mr Trump.

A spokesman for Mrs May said No 10 "has been consistent that Mr Farage has no role" in the government's relationship with the incoming US administration.

The interim Ukip leader has suggested that "insulting" comments about Mr Trump by senior Tories may have been the reason why Mrs May was only 10th on the president-elect's list of foreign leaders to call after his surprise US election win last Tuesday.

Mr Farage's remarks came after it emerged Mrs May's joint chief of staff, Fiona Hill, posted last December: "Donald Trump is a chump."

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was scathing about Mr Trump's attitude to Muslims while he was mayor of London last December.

"Donald Trump is clearly out of his mind if he thinks that's a sensible way to proceed, to ban people going to the United States in that way, or to any country.

"He's betraying a quite stupefying ignorance that makes him, frankly, unfit to hold the office of president of the United States," said Mr Johnson.

Mr Farage said he "stressed the importance of the Anglo-American relationship" at the meeting and asked Mr Trump to return a bust of Winston Churchill to the White House Oval Office, a party spokesman said.

The statue was removed under Barack Obama's administration and Mr Trump was said to have "expressed excitement" over the idea.

Mr Farage summed up the Trump team's mood on election night, saying: "I wouldn't say they were surprised to win, but I think they were relieved to win."

Irish Independent

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