ABC/Ida Mae Astute(LONDON) — The reaction from government officials in the United Kingdom to President-elect Donald Trump’s suggestion Tuesday that they replace the sitting ambassador to the United States with Britain’s populist, anti-immigrant, Independence Party leader, Nigel Farage, was swift and dismissive.
“We have a first rate ambassador in Washington doing a very good job of relating both with the present administration and the administration to be and there is no vacancy for that position,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Tuesday as he pounded his fist in the House of Commons.
It’s a breach of protocol at best (and unprecedented at worst) for an American president or president-elect to publicly call for a foreign nation to appoint a new ambassador. Sir Kim Darroch assumed the role as ambassador in Washington just this year.
Trump tweeted earlier Tuesday that “Many people would like to see @Nigel_Farage represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States,” adding, “He would do a great job!”
Farage and Trump developed a relationship this summer spurred by Trump’s support for Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, a controversial campaign for which Farage had become a figurehead. On Nov. 12, Farage was the first British politician to meet with Trump after he won the election.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that during their meeting, Trump asked Farage to oppose the offshore wind farms that could obstruct the pristine views from one of his two Scottish golf courses, raising questions, as the Times puts it, about Trump’s “willingness to use the power of the presidency to advance his business interests.”
The Times also reported that in a meeting with its editors Tuesday, Trump admitted “I might have brought it up,” when asked about the Farage meeting and wind farms.
Foreign Secretary Johnson also said in jest, without mentioning Farage by name, that perhaps he should instead apply to be ambassador to Tehran, signaling 10 Downing Street’s general disdain for the Independence Party leader.
Farage wrote an op-ed Tuesday for the pro-Trump website Breitbart News saying, “Like a bolt from the blue Trump tweeted out that I would do a great job as the UK’s Ambassador to Washington.”
Farage attributed the gesture to Trump’s affection for those who remain loyal to him.
“It is called trust and it is how the whole world of business operates,” Farage wrote. “Sadly, the cesspit that is career politics understands nothing of this. In their world the concept of trust is transitory.”
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