Theresa May facing backlash over refusal to deal with Nigel Farage despite his links to Donald Trump
Theresa May is facing a growing Cabinet backlash over her decision to dismiss Nigel Farage despite him being the only British politician to meet with Donald Trump since his victory.
The Daily Telegraph understands a number of members of the Cabinet and other Government ministers believe the Prime Minister's allies have made a mistake by referring to Mr Farage as an “irrelevance”.
One Cabinet source also accused Downing Street of having "made no plan" for a Trump victory, despite Government claims that officials have for months been holding talks with members of his inner-circle.
Mrs May has made clear that none of her ministers will be allowed to speak to Mr Farage, the interim Ukip leader, despite his close links to Mr Trump.
Mr Farage on Saturday spent nearly one hour with the President-elect at the Trump tower in New York.
Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Farage says that he was greeted like a “long-lost friend” by Mr Trump, who he supported on the campaign trail in America.
Senior sources in the Government have now made clear that Downing Street will have to back down and allow ministers to have conversations with Mr Farage if it helps them to develop their relationship with the new President-elect’s inner circle.
In further developments:
*Mrs May will today say that Mr Trump’s victory shows the Government must deal with the "overlooked" communities that have been transformed irrevocably by immigration without the "permission" of British voters.
*Mr Trump vowed to immediately deport 3 million illegal immigrants with criminal records in one of his first acts as President, but admitted that his wall at the Mexican border may just have “some fencing” in parts.
*Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-Right Front National party, said that Mr Trump has started a “global revolution” that will lead to her election and the destruction of the European Union.
Mrs May has previously described comments by Mr Trump as “divisive”.
It has also emerged that before entering Downing Street Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, the Prime Minister's joint-chiefs of staff, mocked Mr Trump online.
Ms Hill referred to him as a “chump” and Mr Timothy said that “as a Tory” he did not want “any reaching out” to Mr Trump.
Mr Farage said that Mrs May should “in the national interest” allow him to “provide introductions and to start the necessary process of mending fences”.
However, Downing Street on Sunday insisted again that Mr Farage will have no official or unofficial role in the months ahead.
Senior Westminster sources even went so far as to accuse him of “treachery” for his decision to “bad mouth” the Prime Minister, saying there is a “tradition of not doing party politics abroad”.
However, there are growing signs that senior figures in Mrs May’s administration do not agree with her hostility to Mr Farage, pointing out that he was the first foreign politician to meet with Mr Trump since the US election.
“We should not dismiss Nigel Farage,” a senior Government source said.
Another source said that it is now clear that “some dialogue” is essential with Mr Farage, even if it is “informal”.
“Conversations will have to happen,” the source added.
Writing in this newspaper of his meeting with Mr Trump, Mr Farage says: “The only slight negative that I picked up was the sense that so many senior Conservative figures and indeed important staff figures who now work within Number 10 had been so unrelentingly negative about the Donald. Clearly, there are fences that need to be mended.”
He adds: “If the President-elect trusts me then I would hope that some in the British government could do the same thing. I would be very happy to provide introductions and to start the necessary process of mending fences. And I would not want anything in return. I hope in our national interest that some sense prevails on this.”
In a separate interview, Mr Farage also said that Mr Trump told him that he has “reservations” about Mrs May’s Government because of the hostile comments made about him.
Asked directly if he had contact with Cabinet figures regarding his close ties to the incoming Republican president, Mr Farage told Sky News: "I am not going to go into whatever private phone calls I may, or may not, have had with individual ministers."
Iain Duncan Smith, the former work and pensions secretary, said: “Nigel Farage is just trying to get attention. This is an ego trip - not a diplomatic one.
“While the PM focuses on sensible, measured diplomacy in Britain's national interest, all Farage cares about is talking rubbish abroad.”