Farage condemns ‘petty politics’ over No 10 snub

Handout photo of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage. Picture; PA
Handout photo of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage. Picture; PA
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Nigel Farage has accused Downing Street of allowing “petty party politics” to get in the way of the national interest, after he was given the cold shoulder over his offer to act as a go-between with US president-elect Donald Trump.

Number 10 dismissed suggestions that the Ukip leader might become the “third person” in the relationship between Mr Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May, insisting that the government already has “well-established” channels of communication.

Mr Farage scored a huge political coup in becoming the first British politician to meet Mr Trump after his election victory, and said he was ready to play a “constructive” role in fostering close UK relations with the new regime at the White House.

But Mrs May’s official spokeswoman pointed out that the Prime Minister has already had a phone conversation with Mr Trump, in which he invited her to visit Washington at the earliest opportunity and voiced his hopes of striking up a relationship comparable to that between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

“The president-elect talked about enjoying the same relationship Reagan and Thatcher did,” said the spokeswoman. “I don’t remember there being any third person in that relationship.”

In response, Mr Farage said: “It just amazes me that those ghastly little apparatchiks that work in Downing Street put out statements like this. It just goes to show they are not really interested in the country or the national interest, they are more concerned about petty party politics and trying to keep me out of everything.

“If you think of America in terms of a business and think of them as a client we want to do business with. What would you do? You would use the person who has the connections. Nobody in this administration in the UK has any connections with the Trump team at all, and yet they are prepared on behalf of the country to cut off their noses to spite their faces.”

Mr Farage, who spent around an hour with the president-elect in his Trump Tower home in New York, said he had only gone to the US to meet “old friends” in the politician’s team and did not expect to meet Mr Trump himself.

Conservative former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth said it was “not sensible” to ignore Mr Farage, and the May administration should “think out of the box” about their relations with Washington.

“If Nigel Farage is well-connected with Donald Trump – as it would appear that he is – then we should certainly be talking to him,” Sir Gerald said. “I am not suggesting a formal role for him but I certainly do think it is worth talking to him.”

Mr Farage appeared to hint he had spoken with ministers about his contacts with Mr Trump.

Asked whether any Cabinet members had sounded him out, he said “Not really”, though he declined to explain his comment.

newsen@edinburghnews.com