Nigel Farage doubts he will be envoy to US but says 'anything is possible'

Nigel Farage, of the UK’s rightwing Ukip party, said on Thursday “anything is possible”, in response to Donald Trump’s proposal that he become UK ambassador to the US.

Farage, who is the party’s former and interim leader, admitted he did not expect to get the position, which the British government has made clear is not vacant, but said he “would love to play a constructive middle-man role” between the two countries.

“In normal terms, I wouldn’t necessarily put the words ‘Farage’ and ‘ambassador’ together,” Farage told CNN. “However, 2016 has been a year of dramatic change, so I think anything is possible.”

On Tuesday, Trump said he would like Farage to be ambassador. It was unprecedented for an incoming US president to ask a world leader to appoint someone from the opposing party as ambassador.

Farage, the first foreign politician to meet with Trump after his victory in the US election, said he was “very keen” for the UK and US “to get closer again”.

“I don’t think I’m going to be made British ambassador, let’s be honest,” Farage said. “I’m not Foreign Office … maybe I’m not the type. But I did have 20 years in business before getting involved with politics, I do know how to cut deals, I do have the support, amazingly, of the president-elect, and I do know a number of his team, some of whom I’ve known for years”.

Trump’s shock suggestion prompted representatives across the British government to heap praise on Sir Kim Darroch, who has held the position since January. “We have an excellent ambassador to the United States and he will continue his work,” said the spokesman for the UK prime minister, Theresa May.

In his interview with CNN, Farage also defended Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and executive chairman of the far-right website Breitbart News, which Farage writes for.

Top Democratic politicians and anti-hate speech groups have called Bannon a “white nationalist” who plans to bring antisemitism and racism to the White House. “I’ve spent a fair amount of time with him in an office environment, but equally in a social environment as well, I’ve never heard him say a single racist thing,” Farage said.

Bannon has denied being antisemitic, telling the Wall Street Journal such claims were “a joke”, and that he was an economic nationalist not a white supremacist.

Farage’s deepening ties with the US government come amid reports that Farage is considering a move to the US. He has not appeared in public with his family for 18 months after they were chased out of a pub by anti-Ukip protesters, according to the Times of London on Thursday, and has reportedly told friends he cannot go out for a drink in his home county of Kent because people are confrontational with him.

Farage is returning to the US in December to meet with Trump’s transition team in Washington, though he told CNN he is “not seeking anything” from the visit.

“I’m seeking my country getting closer again to the United States of America after eight years of Obama, who frankly looked down his nose and sneered at us,” Farage said. “We’re about to get back that very special relationship that between us did some much for freedom, liberty and democracy in the world.”

Powered by article was written by Amanda Holpuch in New York, for on Thursday 24th November 2016 21.00 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010