With all the fawning that foreign leaders and dignitaries have been making over Donald Trump, the President-elect may not have been expecting the diplomatic reality check and jeering he just received from the United Kingdom.
A First in Presidential politics
Late in the evening of Nov. 21, Trump made the unprecedented move of suggesting to a foreign government that the leader of the opposition party become the next Ambassador to the U.S.:
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
According to The Telegraph, Mr Farage responded: “I’m very flattered by the comments and I have said since I met the president-elect that I would like to do anything I can to act in a positive way to help relationships between our two countries.”
Nigel Farage is a founding member of the “Ukip” (United Kingdom Independence Party), and was its leader for a decade until resigning after the successful “Brexit” vote (for Britain to leave the European Union) that he helped orchestrate. Ironically, he has never been a member of the UK parliament, having had seven failed bids in the past.
So what qualifications does he have to be U.S. Ambassador, considered one of the most coveted positions in the world of diplomacy? The Guardian is quite succinct: “Farage has no diplomatic experience.”
The United Kingdom’s response: “There is no vacancy.”
As The Guardian described, “It is unprecedented for an incoming US president to ask a world leader to appoint an opposing party leader as ambassador.” And indeed, U.K. response was swift. Members of Britain’s Parliament lampooned the issue on the floor of the House of Commons, as seen in this video courtesy of The Telegraph.
Of note, Sir Simon Burns first suggests the proposal, to laughter and guffaws, and then draws even greater jeer when he offers “And in that measure of fraternity, might he suggest that the best person to fill the vacancy of the ambassador to the United Kingdom next year would be Hillary Rodham Clinton?”
In response, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson, said “As the House knows full well, we have a first-rate ambassador in Washington, doing a very good job of relating both with the present administration and with the administration-to-be, and there is no vacancy for that position.” Members of Parliament shouted “Here! Here!” in support. Johnson continued “Diplomats require diplomacy. There should be no place for anyone who expresses inflammatory and what sometimes can be considered to be borderline racist views in representing this country in discussions with the United States.”
Many MPs (Members of Parliament) piled it on to both Farage and Trump.
If we're going to have Farage as an ambassador for anywhere can it be somewhere far away without good communication links, like the moon?
— Justin Madders MP (@justinmadders) November 22, 2016
— Neil Coyle (@coyleneil) November 22, 2016
Christopher Meyers, the former UK Ambassador to the U.S., joined in the scolding, tweeting
UK ambo in DC exists to defend UK interests in US, not US interests in UK. Can't have foreign presidents deciding who our ambo should be.
— Christopher Meyer (@SirSocks) November 22, 2016
While Trump has been a vocal supporter of Brexit, current Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis even joined in, telling the BBC: “People can say what they like but the simple truth is there’s no vacancy. The ambassador there is very, very good, as we’ve seen.”