How did Nigel Farage become a key player in the future of UK-US relations?

Mr Trump has drawn inspiration for his success from the UK's vote to leave the European Union and sees a kindred spirit in the Ukip leader

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The Independent Online

US President-elect Donald Trump has suggested that Nigel Farage would do a “great job” as the UK's ambassador in Washington. Here are some of the key questions around Mr Trump's latest indication that he will not play by the usual diplomatic rules.


How did the leader of Ukip, a party which has just one MP in the Commons, become a key player in the future of US-UK relations?

Mr Trump drew inspiration for his success from the UK's vote to leave the European Union and saw a kindred spirit in the Ukip leader, who had also employed populist, anti-establishment, anti-immigration rhetoric to secure an electoral upset. The bond was strengthened as Mr Trump dubbed himself “Mr Brexit” and the Ukip leader flew over to Mississippi to address a rally for the Republican candidate. Following Mr Trump's victory in the electoral race, Mr Farage became the first British politician to meet the new president-elect.

How close are the ties between the Trump and Farage camps?

The Breitbart news website provides a transatlantic link between the two men. The strident right-wing website's executive chairman was Steve Bannon, who played a leading role in the Trump campaign and has been named as the president-elect's chief strategist. The website's British counterpart is edited by Raheem Kassam, a former aide to Mr Farage who was briefly a candidate in Ukip's latest leadership contest. Mr Kassam was part of the group - styling themselves as the Brex Pistols - who accompanied Mr Farage on the visit to Trump Tower.

What has Number 10 had to say about Mr Trump's suggestion?

A spokesman stressed that “there is no vacancy” in Washington because “we already have an excellent ambassador to the US”. Downing Street stressed that “as a basic principle, we appoint our ambassadors”.

So who is the “excellent ambassador”?

Sir Kim Darroch, a veteran diplomat, took up the Washington post in January. Before that, he served as David Cameron's national security adviser from 2012 to 2015 and his former roles include being the UK's permanent representative to the European Union. Traditionally, ambassadors to Washington remain in post for four years, but it is not uncommon for them to serve more than one term. Mr Farage has dismissed Sir Kim as an “arch-europhile”.

What does Sir Kim think of Mr Trump?

A leaked memo suggested the diplomat believed British influence could shape Mr Trump's thinking. The document, obtained by the Sunday Times, was reportedly written by Sir Kim in the immediate aftermath of Mr Trump's election win. It said Mr Trump was “above all an outsider and unknown quantity, whose campaign pronouncements may reveal his instincts, but will surely evolve and, particularly, be open to outside influence if pitched right”. Sir Kim added: “Having, we believe, built better relationships with his team than have the rest of Washington diplomatic corps, we should be well placed to do this.”

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