UK to Trump: ‘No va­cancy’ for Farage as am­bas­sador

Trump says Farage would be a great am­bas­sador

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LON­DON: Bri­tain yes­ter­day dis­missed US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s un­prece­dented ex­pres­sion of sup­port for Brexit cam­paigner Nigel Farage to be made Bri­tish am­bas­sador to Wash­ing­ton, say­ing point­edly that there is no va­cancy for the job. Trump, who af­ter his elec­tion vic­tory met Farage be­fore any EU lead­ers, said on Twit­ter that “many peo­ple” would like to see the for­mer met­als trader turned politi­cian as Bri­tain’s am­bas­sador.

“Many peo­ple would like to see @Nigel_Farage rep­re­sent Great Bri­tain as their Am­bas­sador to the United States. He would do a great job!” Trump said on Twit­ter. Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, who con­grat­u­lated Trump on his vic­tory, was swift to re­ject such an undiplo­matic pro­posal. “There is no va­cancy,” a Down­ing Street spokesman said when asked about Trump’s re­mark yes­ter­day. “We al­ready have an ex­cel­lent am­bas­sador to the US.” It is highly un­usual in the mod­ern era for lead­ers to pub­licly sug­gest to for­eign na­tions whom they would like to see as am­bas­sador, though dur­ing strained re­la­tions they some­times re­ject or ex­pel en­voys.

Farage, who spent decades cam­paign­ing for Bri­tain to leave the Euro­pean Union and helped force for­mer Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron call the June ref­er­en­dum that brought the Brexit vote, spoke at a Trump rally dur­ing the U.S. cam­paign and vis­ited the pres­i­dent-elect af­ter his vic­tory. As leader of the UK In­de­pen­dence Party (UKIP) and one of the key fig­ures of the suc­cess­ful Brexit cam­paign, Farage has re­peat­edly an­gered EU lead­ers by pre­dict­ing the col­lapse of the EU, which he says is run by an out of touch elite of “id­iots”.

Farage said Trump’s sug­ges­tion that he serve as am­bas­sador had come “like a bolt from the blue” but Trump un­der­stood loy­alty in a way that those in the “cesspit” of ca­reer pol­i­tics did not. “I am in a good po­si­tion with the Pres­i­dent-elect’s sup­port to help. The world has changed and it’s time that Down­ing Street did too,” Farage said in an ar­ti­cle writ­ten for the Bre­it­bart news web­site. “I would do any­thing to help our na­tional in­ter­est and to help ce­ment ties with the in­com­ing An­glophile ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Farage said.

A pho­to­graph of Trump greet­ing one of the EU’s big­gest crit­ics be­fore a gilded el­e­va­tor shortly af­ter the US elec­tion caused con­ster­na­tion in EU cap­i­tals, many of whom view Trump with a mix­ture of fear and puz­zle­ment. Once shunned by Bri­tain’s main­stream me­dia and its po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment, Farage pep­pers his speeches with jokes and the odd ex­ple­tive while rail­ing against what he calls the doomed Euro­pean su­per­state and im­mi­gra­tion into Bri­tain. Farage said Trump would be a great pres­i­dent af­ter “the po­lit­i­cal revo­lu­tion” that brought Brexit in Bri­tain and Trump to power in the United States. “In the United King­dom the peo­ple have spo­ken but the play­ers at the top have, I am afraid, stayed the same,” Farage, 52, said. “Those who sup­ported Re­main now hold se­nior po­si­tions. Worst still, those who were openly abu­sive about Trump now pre­tend to be his friend,” said Farage.

Farage has called for May to build ties with Trump, who pro­voked crit­i­cism in Bri­tain with his call for a tem­po­rary ban on Mus­lims en­ter­ing the United States. Queen El­iz­a­beth might invite Trump for a state visit to Bri­tain next year. Farage made light of al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault against Trump dur­ing the US cam­paign by en­cour­ag­ing him to “come and schmooze” May but adding “don’t touch her for good­ness sake”. When US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said be­fore the ref­er­en­dum that Bri­tain would be at the back of the queue for a trade deal, Farage said it was dis­grace­ful to in­ter­vene in the sov­er­eign af­fairs of Bri­tain.

But the way am­bas­sadors are cho­sen in the United States and Europe differ sig­nif­i­cantly. It is com­mon prac­tice for the United States to ap­point celebri­ties or cam­paign donors as en­voys, for ex­am­ple when Richard Nixon ap­pointed Shirley Tem­ple as his en­voy to Ghana in 1974. Euro­pean states mostly ap­point ca­reer diplo­mats or of­fi­cials with long ex­pe­ri­ence as am­bas­sadors. Kim Dar­roch, the cur­rent Bri­tish am­bas­sador in Wash­ing­ton, did not re­ply to emails from Reuters re­quest­ing com­ment on Trump’s re­marks. His email bounced back with an out of of­fice re­ply say­ing that the am­bas­sador was trav­el­ling.

In this file photo, US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump (right) wel­comes pro-Brexit Bri­tish politi­cian Nigel Farage, to speak at a cam­paign rally in Jack­son, Miss. — AP

‘No va­cancy’

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