Britain rejects Donald Trump's call for Nigel Farage to be made ambassador to US

Britain dismisses US President-elect Donald Trump's unprecedented expression of support for Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, after he tweeted that 'many people' would like to see him as Britain's ambassador to Washington.
Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump (right) greets United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage at a campaign rally on Aug 24, 2016 in Jackson, Mississippi.
Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump (right) greets United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage at a campaign rally on Aug 24, 2016 in Jackson, Mississippi.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (NYTIMES) - Once again, US President-elect Donald Trump seems to have gone out of his way to embarrass the British government.

After Election Day, he spoke with nine other leaders before taking a call from Prime Minister Theresa May and then told her casually: "If you travel to the US, you should let me know."

In a Monday night (Nov 21) Twitter post, just as the British government was reaching out to Mr Trump to reaffirm the "special relationship" with the United States that Britons prize, he suggested the appointment of Mr Nigel Farage, the interim leader of Britain's populist, anti-immigrant UK Independence Party, as ambassador to the United States.

The prime minister's office quickly dismissed the recommendation, telling reporters "there is no vacancy. We have an excellent ambassador to the US" in Kim Darroch, a former national security adviser.

Mr Farage, a staunch backer of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union and an outspoken supporter of Mr Trump, is better known at home for his fiery speeches than for his diplomatic skills.

He appeared on the campaign trail with Mr Trump and inspired the candidate to promise his supporters a "Brexit plus plus plus", referring to the June 23 referendum in Britain to leave the European Union.

Mr Farage, whose party is a right-wing rival to Mrs May's Conservative Party, has struck up a friendship with Mr Trump. He visited the President-elect in Manhattan on Nov 12.

Still, few expected Mr Trump to trample on the normal rules of diplomatic protocol by suggesting in public that the British government should make his political ally its envoy to the United States.

That is exactly what Mr Trump did in his Twitter post, in which he said: "Many people would like to see @Nigel-Farage represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job!"

Diplomats were quick to criticise Mr Trump for overstepping diplomatic bounds.

"Now Trump tweets that he wants Nigel Farage as UK Ambassador to the US," Mr Carl Bildt, a former prime minister and foreign minister of Sweden, said on Twitter. "Slightly original, to put it very mildly. No business of his."

Mr Farage described the comments from Mr Trump as a "bolt from the blue" but added that "if I could help the UK in any way I would".