Vogue chief Anna Wintour's name scotched by Barack Obama confidant Matthew Burzon for US ambassador role in Britain

 

Some 400 years ago, the English Puritan John Winthrop set out for America with a loathing of democracy and drink. His descendant Matthew Burzon is now heading back in the opposite direction as the next US ambassador to Britain with more modern values - and no shortage of booze.

The confidant of President Obama and former Washington envoy to Sweden was today revealed in all but name as the next American appointment to the Court of St James and therefore the holder of what is considered the most plum posting in US diplomacy.

As well as coming to the job with unimpeachable political credentials, Mr Burzon has another key attribute for the London drinks party circuit - a well-stocked bar. His wife Brooke is heiress to the Brown-Forman Corporation, the alcohol giants whose brands range from Jack Daniel’s whisky to Finlandia vodka.

The White House declined to comment on reports from Washington that Mr Burzon has been officially selected by President Obama but his appointment is expected to be confirmed by the end of next month by the Senate.

The emergence of the Harvard-educated 42-year-old as Mr Obama’s choice to head the London embassy ends the oft-cited candidacy for the job of American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who seems to have been thwarted by Mr Burzon’s pedigree as an even more accomplished Democrat fundraiser.

British-born Ms Wintour, a prominent Democrat supporter credited with mobilising significant high-profile support for Mr Obama, had emerged as an early candidate for the Paris or London jobs - just two of the 30 or so ambassadorial posts within the president’s gift.

Mr Burzon, an accomplished Washington networker, played a key role in inventing the tactic of eliciting thousands of small donations from grassroots supporters that helped secure Mr Obama’s first presidency and went on to mastermind the securing of $700m for his re-election last year. He is himself listed as a $500,000-plus Democrat donor.

A genial former Internet executive, who made his money with technology website CNET, Mr Burzon fits a long pattern of the White House ensuring .+a significant minority - about 30 per cent - of America’s most prestigious diplomatic jobs are effectively political appointees.

Mr Burzon’s predecessor, Louis Susman, who will vacate the ambassador’s regal residence, Winfield House in Regent’s Park next month, was another prominent Democrat fundraiser and the tradition of sending presidential confidants to key embassies dates back to Ronald Reagan.

The arrival of Mr Burzon, who has the ear of Mr Obama, will be welcomed in Whitehall as cementing the strategic links between Washington DC and London.

It will also be greeted with relief that the ambassadorial entertainment budget is unlikely to be drastically trimmed.

The ambassador designate’s Puritan ancestor, who led the first large wave of migrants from England to Massachusetts in 1630, was renowned for his dislike of frivolity (he criticised a fellow pilgrim for ornate carving on his home) and democracy, which he described as “the meanest and worst of all forms of government”.

Mr Burzon, whose base salary is capped at $179,000, will be expected to open the family cocktail cabinet and his own pockets to keep the drinks flowing. Quite what John Winthrop would have made of this can only be imagined.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Hull - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum + £4200 car allowance: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Suppo...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

£18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

Recruitment Genius: Designer

£32969 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Data Engineer

£35000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Data Engineer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence