Monday 11 December 2017

Nigel Farage to be Donald Trump's go-between amid claims Special Relationship between UK and US is faltering

Donald Trump, right, greets former UKIP leader Nigel Farage at a rally in Jackson, Mississippi. Photos: Jonathan Bachman/Getty
Donald Trump, right, greets former UKIP leader Nigel Farage at a rally in Jackson, Mississippi. Photos: Jonathan Bachman/Getty

Christopher Hope, Peter Dominiczak, Ruth Sherlock, Barney Henderson

UK Ministers will use Nigel Farage as an unofficial intermediary to build bridges with Donald Trump to ensure the “special relationship” does not falter in the wake of his election.

The Telegraph understands that ministers will be forced to seek Mr Farage’s advice because they have no links to the President-elect’s inner circle.

Mrs May spoke to Mr Trump for the first time since his victory – but not until after he had spoken to the leaders of at least nine other nations.

Downing Street said that during the call, Mr Trump said that the UK is a “very, very special place for me and for our country” and suggested that he wants their relationship to be similar to the one enjoyed by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

Donal Trump announces his presidential candidacy
Donal Trump announces his presidential candidacy

But the delay in talking to the President-elect led to accusations that the Government had undermined its relationship with Washington by failing to anticipate Mr Trump's success.

Read more: ''

'There is also concern in government that relations have been damaged by rows which took place before the election.

Mr Farage - who joined Mr Trump on the campaign trail - told the Telegraph the relationship between Mr Trump's Republican Party and the Conservatives has "completely broken down".

It is understood that Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary who has links to the Republican Party, now intends to speak to Mr Farage before attempting to hold talks with senior Trump advisers.

On Thursday night, Number 10 said that Mr Farage will not be representing Mrs May in any official or unofficial capacity.

US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks in New York during a press conference. AFP/Getty Images
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks in New York during a press conference. AFP/Getty Images

In their phone call Mr Trump and Mrs May on Thursday agreed that they would attempt to strengthen the special relationship.

It came as:

  • Mr Trump and Barack Obama met for the very first time. Following a 90 minute meeting at the White House Mr Trump called the man he will succeed as president as a "very, very good man".
  • Just minutes later the White House said that the current President still believes that Mr Trump is "uniquely unqualified for office".
  • Mr Trump held a meeting with the Republican leadership and said he will move quickly to lower taxes and reform healthcare.
  • Global markets continued to rally, with the Dow Jones hitting a record high, rising 191 points, and the FTSE rising 1.2 per cent

On Thursday it emerged that senior figures in Whitehall have in recent months warned that the Government was not taking seriously enough the prospect of a Trump presidency.

Three months ago Boris Johnson, then a relatively new Foreign Secretary, instructed his officials to do more to forge links with Mr Trump’s campaign, fearing that there was too much expectation in the Foreign Office of a victory for Hilary Clinton.

Read more: Donald Trump finally talks to Theresa May: UK is 'very, very special place for me' says President-elect

It has also been claimed that Sir Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to the US, did not do enough to develop close links with Mr Trump’s campaign in the build-up to the presidential election.

On Thursday Philip Hammond said the delay in talks between Mr Trump and Mrs May was because the pair had no "urgent business".

"We do not have any urgent business that we need to transact," the Chancellor said. "Obviously, in due course the Prime Minister will be looking forward to meeting Mr Trump once he is inaugurated as the President.

"I expect that the very strong and close relationship that always develops between a UK prime minister and US president will develop between those two."

But Mr Farage says that he is the only British politician who has "offered help or support" to Mr Trump.

Mr Farage says that he perceived snubs towards Mr Trump have damaged the relationship between the UK and USA.

He says: "Of Britain’s relationship there is going to be a slightly difficult start. Nobody in the British government has reached out to his campaign, believing as with our referendum that he could not possibly win.

"The traditional relationship between the British Conservative party and the Republicans has completely broken down."

Any issue between Mr Trump and Mrs May goes back to December 2015, when Mr Trump was criticised by the then Home Secretary over his suggestion that he wanted to ban all Muslims from America.

Mrs May said that the comments were “divisive, unhelpful and wrong”.

Mr Johnson, who was mayor of London at the time, said his views were “ill-informed” and “complete and utter nonsense”.

Mr Trump was also left furious after MPs in Parliament debated whether Mr Trump should be banned from the UK, even threatening to withdraw £600 million of planned investment in Scotland.

Before speaking to Mrs May at 1.45pm on Thursday, Mr Trump spoke to the leaders of Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Israel, Turkey, India, Japan, Australia and South Korea.

It is traditional for one of a President-elect’s first calls to be to the British prime minister in recognition of the long-standing “special relationship”.

Sources close to Mr Trump insisted that the order of the calls was random. They said that proper plans had not been put in place for the day after the election.

Following the call Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister and President-elect Trump agreed that the US-UK relationship was very important and very special, and that building on this would be a priority for them both.

“President-elect Trump set out his close and personal connections with, and warmth for, the UK. He said he was confident that the special relationship would go from strength to strength.”

Government sources confirmed that Dr Fox will travel to America “as soon as possible” to attempt to “engage” with Mr Trump’s team.

Mr Trump invited Mrs May to the White House during their phone call on Thursday. It is expected that the Prime Minister will fly to Washington early next year.

 Sir Christopher Meyer, who was Britain’s ambassador in Washington from 1997 and 2003, said it had been difficult for British officials to know who to speak to around Mr Trump.

He said the UK had to speak “either to the family” or to other figures like Governor Chris Christie or Newt Gingrich but it was not clear to what extent they are “authentic spokespeople for Donald J himself”.

He added: “It must be more difficult to get alongside Donald than it was for me to get alongside George W [Bush] or my predecessor to get alongside Bill Clinton.”

He said: “What is really important now is to accept that he is president-elect, that he will be president, and that whatever the things were said and judgements  made during the campaign, we now have to deal with who will be in the Oval office.

“And that means cracking on with messages of congratulation, the embassy going ‘full roar’ to get alongside those who are going to be in the new administration."

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