Donald Trump is no 'ogre', says Brexit figurehead Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage (right) speaks at Donald Trump's campaign rally in Mississippi on Aug 24, 2016.
Nigel Farage (right) speaks at Donald Trump's campaign rally in Mississippi on Aug 24, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Top Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage on Monday (Nov 14) said Donald Trump was no "ogre" and urged the British government to begin "mending fences" after meeting the US president-elect in New York.

"However tough, even vicious the campaign may have been, he had nice things to say about the way (Barack) Obama and Hillary (Clinton) had treated him," Farage wrote in a commentary piece for the Daily Telegraph.

"I suspect that president Trump is not going to be the ogre that some fear," said Farage, who was the first British politician to meet with Trump after his shock victory.

"What I saw was a thoughtful and reflective Donald Trump," said Farage, who also spoke at a Trump rally in Mississippi during the campaign.

Farage, whose UK Independence Party (UKIP) came third by number of votes in the last election but has only one MP in parliament, was a key leader of the "Leave" campaign ahead of Britain's referendum to exit the EU in June.

Farage's links with Trump have divided the government.

Some officials see him as a go-between, but a source from Prime Minister Theresa May's Downing Street office has dismissed him as an "irrelevance".

During his meeting with Trump on Saturday, Farage said they had talked about "the prospect of the United Kingdom being at the front of the queue".

US President Barack Obama on a visit to London this year had said Britain would be at the "back of the queue" in trade talks if it voted to leave the EU.

Farage said the only negativity he sensed in his meeting with Trump was due to many British officials who "had been so unrelentingly negative about The Donald".

"Clearly, there are fences to be mended," he said.

Then interior minister May criticised Trump's comments about banning Muslims from the United States as "divisive, unhelpful and wrong".

There was also strong criticism of Trump's comments about "no-go" areas with Muslim extremists in Britain.

Then London mayor Boris Johnson, now foreign minister, said at the time: "The only reason I wouldn't visit some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump".

On Monday, Johnson appeared to soften his stance, saying Trump was a man Britain and the European Union can do business with.

"Donald Trump, as I've said before, is a dealmaker and I think that could be a good thing for Britain but it can also be a good thing for Europe," Johnson said as he arrived for an EU foreign ministers meeting, having snubbed special talks on the issue the night before.

Farage on Monday put himself forward as an intermediary with the new Trump administration.

"I would be very happy to provide introductions and to start the necessary process of mending fences... I hope in our national interest some sense prevails on this," he said.