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Our man in Washington meets May after Trump backed Farage as ambassador

Published 22/11/2016

Nigel Farage would do a great job as the UK's ambassador in Whashington, Donald Trump said
Nigel Farage would do a great job as the UK's ambassador in Whashington, Donald Trump said

Britain's ambassador to Washington has met Theresa May for talks, after the Prime Minister rejected Donald Trump's call for him to be replaced by Nigel Farage.

Downing Street refused to comment on the content of Sir Kim Darroch's conversation with Mrs May, but made clear she regards him as "an excellent ambassador who is doing a fantastic job".

The US president-elect shocked Westminster with a late-night tweet declaring that Mr Farage would do a "great job" and that "many people" wanted to see him as the UK's senior diplomat in Washington.

But Downing Street stressed that "as a basic principle, we appoint our ambassadors", while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that the UK already had a "first rate" envoy in Washington.

Mr Johnson praised veteran diplomat Sir Kim - who met Mrs May during a previously-planned visit to London - telling MPs: "We have a first rate ambassador in Washington doing a very good job of relating both with the present administration and with the administration to be, and there is no vacancy for that position."

Interim Ukip leader Mr Farage accused Downing Street of putting its dislike for him ahead of the national interest, saying it was time for Mrs May to recognise that "the world has changed", as he claimed he was "in a good position, with the president-elect's support, to help".

Mr Farage told the Press Association he was "very flattered" by Mr Trump's suggestion and was ready "to do anything I can to act in a positive way to help relationships between our two countries".

The property tycoon's highly unusual endorsement was a fresh embarrassment for Mrs May, who was beaten to meeting the future president in person by Mr Farage.

In a sign of the Government's efforts to forge links with the US president-elect, Downing Street revealed on Monday that an invitation for a state visit to the UK is under consideration.

And Mr Johnson told MPs that "it's vital that we are as positive as we can possibly be about the new administration-elect" as he hit out at Labour for being" premature" in making "hostile judgments" about the next occupant of the White House.

But writing on the website Breitbart - whose former executive chairman Stephen Bannon has been appointed Mr Trump's chief strategist - Mr Farage denounced "career politicians" who were pretending to be Mr Trump's friend after previously criticising him.

"The political revolution of 2016 now sees a new order in charge of Washington. In the United Kingdom the people have spoken but the players at the top have, I am afraid, stayed the same," he said.

"Those who supported Remain now hold senior positions. Worst still, those who were openly abusive about Trump now pretend to be his friend. 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.

"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.

"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. The world has changed and its time that Downing Street did too."

Mr Farage's comments may be seen as a reference to Mrs May's previous description of Mr Trump's remarks about Muslims as "divisive, stupid and wrong" at a time when he was seeking nomination as the Republican candidate for president.

Mr Johnson had also ridiculed the tycoon in the past, joking that "the only reason I wouldn't go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump".

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