Friday 9 December 2016

'We talked freedom and winning' - Nigel Farage becomes first European politician to meet Donald Trump after win

Shaun Connolly, Press Association Political Correspondent

Published 13/11/2016 | 09:43

Handout photo of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage Nigel Farage/ PA Wire
Handout photo of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage Nigel Farage/ PA Wire

NIGEL Farage said Donald Trump's support for the UK-US relations is "very strong" after he become the first European politician to meet the tycoon since he became US president-elect.

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

Donald Trump and Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Donald Trump and Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Mr Farage "stressed the importance of the Anglo-American relationship" - and asked Mr Trump to return a bust of Sir 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.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Farage said: "It was a great honour to spend time with Donald Trump. He was relaxed, and full of good ideas.

"I'm confident he will be a good president. His support for the US-UK relationship is very strong. This is a man with whom we can do business.

Trump's victory has produced a new level of uncertainty Photo: Reuters
Trump's victory has produced a new level of uncertainty Photo: Reuters

"I was especially pleased at his very positive reaction to the idea that Sir Winston Churchill's bust should be put back in the Oval Office."

The encounter will be seen as a major political coup for the interim leader of Ukip and came after he used the American media to warn Theresa May she needed to "mend fences" with Mr Trump.

Asked on Fox News why the president-elect should meet the PM after the things senior Tories had said about him, Mr Farage said: "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.

"Trump is an Anglophile, he understands and recognises what our two great nations have done together between us. And, thank goodness, we are coming towards the end of an American president who loathed Britain.

"One of the things we can do, we can have between us a sensible trade relationship, cut tariffs, we are massive investors in each other's countries. There's a bright future."

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

A spokesman for Mrs May told the Press Association that No 10 "has been consistent that Mr Farage has no role" in the Government's relationship with the in-coming 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 win last Tuesday.

Mr Farage's remarks came after it emerged Mrs May's two joint chiefs of staff had attacked Mr Trump on social media before taking up their current posts.

Fiona Hill posted last December: "Donald Trump is a chump", while her colleague Nick Timothy wrote in March: "American politics was depressing enough before Trump took off."

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was scathing about Mr Trump's attitude to Muslims while he was mayor of London last December, saying: "I think 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.

"What he's doing is playing the game of the terrorists and those who seek to divide us. That's exactly the kind of reaction they hope to produce.

"I think he's betraying a quite stupefying ignorance that makes him frankly unfit to hold the office of President of the United States."

While pushing for a meeting between the president-elect and Mrs May, the interim Ukip leader appeared to make light of a now infamous 2005 videotape of Mr Trump in which he boasted about being able to grope women because of his celebrity.

"I will be encouraging him to make the UK his priority. I am now going to become a diplomat - 'Come and schmooze Theresa, don't touch her for goodness' sake'. If it comes to it I could be the responsible adult and make sure everything's okay," he told TalkRadio.

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