Nigel Farage claims there is precedent for US presidents advising on UK ambassador

Farage says 'voices in British business' are supportive of his being ambassador

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Hoping to rekindle the the conversation started this week by Donald Trump about his being British ambassador to the United States, Nigel Farage has said there is precedent for US presidents influencing the choice. 

Mr Farage also contended in an interview with CNN on Thursday that he had been hearing “lots of voices in business in the United Kingdom saying it would make sense” if he were magically parachuted into the country’s most prestigious diplomatic post.

Suggesting there was “historical precedent” for US presidents giving London a nod on whom they would like to see sent to Washington he made mention of President John F. Kennedy.

“There is some historical precedent of it - we go all the way back to Kennedy,” he offered. “He definitely had a say in who the British ambassador was in those days.”

It is widely thought that President Kennedy in 1961 approached the then British leader, Harold MacMillan, about sending the Conservative politician Sir David Ormsby-Gore to Washington as Britain's ambassador, who had become a friend of the Mr Kennedy’s father, when he was ambassador in London.

Were he by some extremely unlikely series of circumstances actually to be given the job, Mr Farage would preside over the rather plain UK embassy that sits on Massachusetts Avenue near the Naval Observatory, the official home to American vice presidents.

Far more more gracious though is the residence of the British ambassador. Designed by Edwin Lutyens and blessed with glorious gardens, it has long been a hub of diplomatic entertaining in the American capital. 

Mr Trump electrified the trans-Atlantic diplomatic echo chamber when he posted a Tweet on Monday lauding Mr Farage, the on-again, off-again leader or UKIP, and suggesting he serve as Britain’s representative in the US.  “Many people would like to see @Nigel_Farage represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States,” he wrote. “He would do a great job!”

Probably the person least thrilled with the intervention was Britain’s current ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, formerly national security adviser to David Cameron and an ex-permanent representative to the European Union. He only took the post in January.

Also unamused was the British Government which stepped in instantly to support Mr Darroch. “There is no vacancy,” a Downing Street spokesperson responded. “We already have an excellent ambassador to the US.” 

In his interview with CNN, Mr Farage also pushed back against depictions of Stephen Bannon, the former editor of Breitbart, the ultra conservative news site now tapped to be top strategist to Mr Trump, as a racist and bigot.  

“Working with him and socialising with him I have never heard him say anything that I thought was extreme,” Mr Farage insisted. “And to hear him being talked about as anti-semitic… I can’t think of anybody who has been a more stout defender of Israel and its right to exist. I think there is a lot of sour grapes going on here.”

He also confirmed he has plans to make another visit shortly to the US and meet with members of the Trump transition team though not, this time, with Mr Trump himself. “I will be in the United Stats in the next few days…I will be meeting some of the political players Washington and New York,” he said. 

Mr Farage agreed that when it comes to appointing an ambassador, “it’s not up to him (Mr Trump), its up to the British government.” He said he was around “to help” if the Government were to change its mind and seek out his services.