London: US president–elect Donald Trump suggested Britain should appoint the longtime UK Independence Party leader, Nigel Farage, as ambassador to Washington, earning a rebuff from the British government that the incumbent will “be there for years.”
“Many people would like to see Nigel Farage represent Great Britain as their ambassador to the United States,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “He would do a great job!”
The unprecedented intervention could complicate relations with UK prime minister Theresa May, who has rejected Farage’s assertions that he is uniquely placed to forge ties with Trump, not to mention the current ambassador, Kim Darroch. The British government is trying to build ties with the new US administration, after Trump took more than a day to call the prime minister after his election victory this month.
“We’re believers in free speech in Britain, but we’ve got a very good ambassador, Kim Darroch, who’s going to be there for some years,” Brexit secretary David Davis said in a BBC television interview in Strasbourg, France. “There’s no vacancy. This is the ambassador, he’s very good, as we’ve seen already, and he’ll be there for years.”
May’s office also said that there’s “no vacancy,” backing Darroch by saying “we already have an excellent ambassador to the US.”
In Parliament on Tuesday, one Conservative lawmaker, Simon Burns, suggested Britain should advise Trump to appoint Hillary Clinton, the defeated Democrat candidate in the US presidential race, as ambassador to London.
“We have a first-rate ambassador in Washington doing a very good job of relating both with the present administration and the administration to be,” foreign secretary Boris Johnson told lawmakers.
For his part, Farage tweeted that “the world has changed. It’s time that Downing Street did too,” he said in a reference to May’s office. “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,” Farage said.
The UK is drawing up plans to invite Trump for an official state visit to Britain next year as part of a charm offensive to establish close links with the new US administration. Trump would be the guest of Queen Elizabeth II and would be likely to stay at Buckingham Palace in London or another of her official residences—such as Windsor Castle to the west of the capital.
The president-elect told May in a 10 November phone call that the UK is a “very, very special place for me and for our country.”
In the run-up to the US presidential election, Farage aligned himself with Trump’s team, comparing the candidate’s rise in popularity with Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. UKIP’s support surged under Farage as his campaigns against immigration and the EU culminated in June’s Brexit vote. Since then, he’s said he will try to win a seat in Parliament, after repeatedly failing to do so in recent years. Bloomberg
Thomas Penny also contributed to this story.