In a striking breach of diplomatic protocol, President-elect Donald Trump has suggested Nigel Farage, interim leader of British anti-immigration party, UKIP, who has been one of Trump’s most vocal foreign champions, should be made the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States.
According to a report in Time magazine, the apparently unprompted tweet has set off a firestorm in the U.K., throwing another wrench in the gears of Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempts to rebuild the “special relationship” between Britain and the U.S. under Trump.
Downing Street put out a terse statement following Trump’s tweet, which was posted shortly before midnight local time, saying there was “no vacancy for an ambassador to the United States.”
The incumbent, Kim Darroch, was appointed only in January and it would be a major departure for a government to appoint a sitting politician of a rival party to what is considered the crown jewel in the diplomatic service—especially at the prompting of a foreign world leader.
Trump said that Farage, a lawmaker in the European Parliament who is currently interim leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, would do a “great job” as one of Britain’s most senior diplomats. “Many people” would like the appointment, Trump said:
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 British government confirmed earlier this week it was considering inviting Trump to the U.K. for a state visit in 2017, in an apparent attempt to rebuild a “special relationship” seen to have deteriorated under President Barack Obama. The timing of Trump’s tweet could suggest there might be strings attached to a rekindling of the affair.
Farage had previously said he was “not the ambassadorial type” but hinted in an article for Breitbart.com published just hours after the tweet that he would accept the role if asked. “I have known several of the Trump team for years and I am in a good position with the President-elect’s support to help,” he wrote. “The world has changed and it’s time that Downing Street did too.”