Downing Street has been forced to defend its choice of ambassador to the United States after President-elect Donald Trump suggested Nigel Farage should be given the job.
Number 10 issued a statement saying there is “no vacancy” for the post, after Mr Trump broke all diplomatic convention to claim that many people want to see Ukip MEP Mr Farage given the influential role.
The new US leader’s intervention is deeply uncomfortable for Downing Street, given it has already tried to dismiss the idea of the interim Ukip leader having any diplomatic position.
Mr Farage, who told The Independent he is “very flattered” by Mr Trump’s suggestion, has already embarrassed Theresa May by becoming the first British politician to have an audience with the President-elect following his shock election win.
After Mr Trump’s comment, a Downing Street spokesman said: “There is no vacancy. We have an excellent ambassador to the US.”
Mr Farage, meanwhile, was not put off by the Number 10 response and suggested he was still ready to take up any job offered that allowed him to use his connections with Mr Trump to build ties between the US and UK, adding: “I said after my meeting with him in New York that I would like to help where I can.”
Asked if he thought Downing Street could accept him, he said: “We'll have to see. Hope springs eternal.”
It was last night that Mr Trump took to Twitter to say: “Many people would like to see @Nigel_Farage represent Great Britain as their ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job!”
It follows embarrassment after a leaked memo written by the current US ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, said the UK was well placed to help Mr Trump “evolve” his more outlandish campaign pronouncements.
Earlier this month, an ecstatic Mr Farage appeared in pictures with Mr Trump following their meeting in New York, before doing television interviews telling Ms May it was time to “mend some fences” with the US leader.
After spending more than an hour with the President-elect, the interim Ukip leader urged Ms May to stop running him down and instead use his closeness to Mr Trump to “put the national interest first”. He also said the new US leader’s team was concerned by disparaging comments made about him in London during his election campaign.
The meeting came amid claims, not denied by Mr Farage, that he had spoken with Tory ministers about serving as an intermediary to try and improve relations with the new US leader.
But at the time, Ms May’s official spokesperson said the Government already had “well-established” channels of communication with Mr Trump’s team and dismissed the idea that there would be a “third person” in the Reagan/Thatcher-style relationship Ms May would have with Mr Trump.
Ms May was also criticised in the UK for her welcoming words to Mr Trump on his election win, while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has irked EU leaders by telling them to stop their “whinge-o-rama” about Mr Trump’s win.Reuse content