President-elect Donald Trump met Saturday with Britain’s Nigel Farage, interim head of the Euroskeptic United Kingdom Independence Party and one of the leading “Brexit” campaigners.
The two politicians spent nearly an hour together at Mr. Trump’s New York home, Trump Tower, further solidifying a relationship that previously included Mr. Farage speaking at one of Trump’s campaign rallies.
Farage is the first foreign politician to meet with Trump since the US presidential election, with British Prime Minister Theresa May not due to follow suit until early next year. He has been dismissed as an “irrelevance” by some senior British politicians, yet there is now pressure for Prime Minister May and her cabinet to reconsider that position, with Farage himself saying that he hopes “sense prevails” so he can “provide introductions and ... start the necessary process of mending fences.”
“I was greeted like a long-lost friend,” wrote Farage in The Telegraph, referring to his meeting with Trump. “We sat down and talked about Brexit, his victorious campaign and how the world was changing. What I saw was a thoughtful and reflective Donald Trump.”
May has previously described Trump as “divisive” and “wrong” with respect to his proposed ban on Muslims, and Farage has offered to mediate between the two, acting as the “responsible adult” in any meeting, urging Trump to “schmooze” with the prime minister.
"But don't touch her for goodness sake," he added.
In his Telegraph piece, Farage said that “to a man and woman they are anglophiles,” referring to the key players in Trump’s team, as well as talking of Trump’s enthusiasm at the suggestion of reinstalling a bust of Britain’s wartime leader, Winston Churchill, in the Oval Office. Farage felt that Britain would be “at the front of the queue,” in terms of relations with the US.
Indeed, in a diplomatic telegram published in The Sunday Times (London), Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, concurred, saying that Trump, as an “outsider and an unknown quantity,” will “be open to outside influence if pitched right.”
“And having, we believe, built better relationships with his team than have the rest of Washington diplomatic corps,” added Sir Darroch, “we should be well placed to do this.”
Nigel Farage has lauded Trump’s victory as further evidence, on the heels of “Brexit,” of what voters “across the Western world” are demanding: “nation state democracy, proper border controls and to be in charge of their own lives.” He speaks of the closer relationship he now envisages between Britain and the United States, now that President Obama, whom he described as a “loathsome individual,” is leaving the White House.
But how much of a role he plays in official relations between the two nations remains to be seen.
This report contains material from Reuters.