Donald Trump’s suggestion that Nigel Farage could become the UK’s ambassador to his administration has shocked the diplomatic world – and produced a strong rebuke from the British government.
Trump suggested Farage for the job – already occupied by career diplomat Sir Kim Darroch – in a tweet late on Monday night:
Many people would like to see @Nigel_Farage represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
The message, which arrived around 3am UK time, caught officials at 10 Downing Street completely by surprise.
After recovering their composure, British authorities rebuked the suggestion in a polite but firm statement noting that “there is no vacancy” for the position.
Trump’s suggestion follows lengthy speculation about an official role for Farage after he became the first British political figure to meet the President-elect.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) November 12, 2016
But the appointment would be so far from diplomatic norms that it was scarcely taken seriously – despite featuring in optimistic reports by newspapers close to Farage.
Whole world so upside down that no-one even remarking how weird it is to have a foreign leader attempting to pick ambassadors to his capital https://t.co/2F9anZdZdc
— Ian Katz (@iankatz1000) November 22, 2016
Indeed, for an elected leader to suggest to other countries who they might pick for an ambassadorial role is virtually unheard of in modern times.
Darroch took over from his predecessor Sir Peter Westmacott at the beginning of this year.
Despite an early gaffe where he was mocked for acting like a robot in his first meeting with Barack Obama, he has been a low-key, uncontroversial holder of the post.
— Kim Darroch (@KimDarroch) January 28, 2016
The job is one of the most coveted in the extensive British diplomatic service, and gives the office holder an enviable property in Washington, D.C., and brings them into the orbit of pivotal figures in world politics.
However, given Farage’s status as a perennial outsider in British politics – who has failed seven times to win a seat in the House of Commons – it seems all but impossible that he post could ever be his.
As if to underscore the distance between Trump’s hope and reality, today was also the day the UK’s Electoral Commission announced an investigation into UKIP’s finances after claims they misused some £400,000 of cash from the EU.