Commentator Sam Yearley is surprised that President-elect Trump wants to appoint underqualified Nigel Farage as the US ambassador to the UK
On the 22nd of November President-elect Trump tweeted to say that Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader would do a ‘great job!’ as the US Ambassador from the UK. The audacity of this request knows no bounds, but let me try and explain the biggest problems with it that I have.
Firstly, this is just not how we do things here. Ambassadors from the UK are almost always experienced politicians who have held many roles and proved their competency many times. Farage has had nowhere near enough experience for this role since he has only ever been an MEP and leader of the UKIP party. Admittedly working as an MEP gives him some international experience, but operating as an elected member of a parliament is a completely different situation from working as an ambassador. Coupled with the fact that the EU parliament is very different from Washington, it is difficult to find any experience Farage has that is in any way focused or specific for this role. Whereas the current ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch, has gained a wealth of experience since joining the foreign office in 1976. He has been working in various embassy related roles, as well as working with the government back home, until his appointment as the US ambassador in 2016. I, for one, am glad that ministers made it very clear very quickly that he will be retaining his position.
Next up, we have to look at the fact that Farage is the current leader of one of the opposition parties. How on earth is he expected to work with a government that he is currently employed to oppose? Trump making this request is a worryingly clear show of his complete lack of understanding of the British political situation. One has to wonder how far his ignorance goes: is it simply that he does not understand that we have a combined executive and legislative government; meaning there is no reason to appoint opposing politicians into roles of importance? Or, does he not even have a vague understanding of what the political parties are in Britain, let alone which is in charge? I imagine the president elect lies somewhere in between these two, but probably a lot closer to the latter than we would like.
Finally I have to find fault with the fact that Trump has blatantly chosen one of the few senior British politicians that he is friendly with. Being in the rich boys’ club has meant that Farage and Trump have always got along swimmingly with each other. Trump is most likely completely unaware of Farage’s experience and qualifications (or lack thereof) for the role, and made the request on a whim, hoping to get a friendly face to share expensive booze with. I dread the day everyone chooses ambassadors based on who Trump will get along with, because it will lead to a lot of white men getting these positions, and perhaps the odd woman that has a striking resemblance to Ivanka Trump.
This one, seemingly quite small, request might not seem like much at first, especially since it was so quickly put to bed by British ministers. However, once you look at exactly what this means for Trump’s relation to Britain over the next four years it becomes very worrying. He lacks knowledge about our politics, but has already made it crystal clear he plans on getting very involved and very demanding when it comes to what he wants us to do. Hopefully May has the strength to stand up to him for the coming years, and in this respect I wish her all the luck in the world that she is successful.