‘No vacancy’: UK rejects Trump’s suggestion of Farage as ambassador

Farage ‘enormously flattered’ after unprecedented move by incoming US president

Donald Trump and Nigel Farage at Trump Tower on November 12, 2016 in New York City. Photograph: Nigel Farage/PA Wire

Donald Trump and Nigel Farage at Trump Tower on November 12, 2016 in New York City. Photograph: Nigel Farage/PA Wire

 

The British government has dismissed Donald Trump’s suggestion that Ukip leader Nigel Farage should be sent to Washington as ambassador, insisting there is “no vacancy”. Mr Farage said Theresa May’s government was putting its dislike of him ahead of the national interest by refusing to employ him as a conduit to the US president-elect.

“As far as the ambassador goes, there is no vacancy for that position. We have an excellent ambassador to the United States and he will continue his work,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.

Mr Trump made the suggestion in an overnight tweet, saying that “many people” would like to see Mr Farage as ambassador, adding “he would do a great job”.

In the House of Commons, foreign secretary Boris Johnson described Britain’s current envoy, Kim Darroch, as “a first rate ambassador in Washington doing a very good job with the current administration and the administration to be”.

Sir Kim was David Cameron’s national security adviser before his posting to Washington last January. A career diplomat, he was Tony Blair’s top adviser on the Europe and served as Britain’s permanent representative to the EU. Most British ambassadors are career diplomats, although Mr Cameron’s former chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, this month became ambassador to Paris.

In 1977, James Callaghan faced a storm of controversy when he appointed his son-in-law Peter Jay, a journalist with no diplomatic experience, as ambassador to Washington.

Mr Johnson was at pains to avoid criticising Mr Trump, accusing Labour MPs who warned about the incoming president’s policies of endangering Britain’s interests.

“I do think it is very important that on all sides of this House we should be as positive as we possibly can be about working with the incoming US administration,” he said.

“It is of massive importance to our country and indeed to the world.”

Campaigned together

“It is career politics at its worst and it is now getting in the way of the national interest. I have said since the now famous photograph with Donald Trump 10 days ago that I would do anything to help our national interest and to help cement ties with the incoming Anglophile administration,” he said.

“At every stage I am greeted by negative comments coming out of Downing Street. The dislike of me, Ukip, and the referendum result is more important to them than what could be good for our country.”

Opposition to the idea of sending Mr Farage to Washington was shared across the political spectrum at Westminster and Conservative MP Dan Poulter stressed the importance of character for senior diplomatic roles.

“Diplomats require diplomacy,” he said.

 “There should be no place for anyone who expresses inflammatory and what sometimes can be considered to be borderline racist views in representing this country in discussions with the United States.”