What will Farage’s role be?

Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party and a chief proponent of the British exit from the European Union earlier this summer, joined Trump on stage at a rally to draw similarities between the UK's vote to leave the European Union...
Farage and Trump at a rally in Mississippi

“Ambassador Farage”.

Doesn’t it have a certain ring to it? President-elect Trump thinks so. So do those who attended his homecoming party at the Ritz on Wednesday night. And so does Nigel Farage himself.

But could this be a good thing for Britain? Could we have found our messiah to lead us in this new world, to take us across the Red Sea, whilst the walls of water crash down on those countries left behind , crushed by the tide of localist sentiment?

Or is this just a desperate attempt by a man who has failed to ever win a seat in our Parliament to assume power by other means? Would this be a betrayal, not just of diplomatic procedure, but flaw in the links in May’s government that could paralyse and ultimately damage our relationship with America?

That’s a lot of questions. And as with any such conjecture, especially with men as volatile as Trump and Farage, the actual situation in which they arose are liable to change at a moment’s notice. Indeed, some reports have Farage instead considering settling across the pond, perhaps in the employ of Trump himself. Yet with these questions posed, it’s worth considering them – and then perhaps pleading with Farage to return.

Farage does have a lot to offer at a first glance. He undoubtedly has a closer relation than any other Briton with the incoming president. Meeting Trump before the prime minister, foreign minister, ambassador, or any other member of the British government is not only quite the snub for them, but highlights their close relationship. Farage’s relationship with Trump extends at least as far back as August, when he appeared at a Trump rally in Mississippi, and continued through the support that he continued to provide, such as dismissing to importance of Trump’s groping scandal.This provides him a level of access that is unparalleled at the moment.

Yet Farage would hardly fit the role of ambassador. The ambassador is the arm of the British government in America. They do what they’re told, no more, no less. They are a civil servant of the government, not a minister making policy on the hoof, as in the movies. Detailed negotiations on topics of the utmost importance and secrecy are carried out there. Whilst Farage is likely adept enough to handle these tasks, this is surely not the role that he envisioned when he imagined being the “Ambassador”. What’s more, the ancillary tasks of being an ambassador (replacing lost passports, helping Britons in America, etc.) are definitely not what Farage will have envisioned, however insulated he is from these roles.

It’s clear that Farage’s place can’t be as ambassador itself, but it’s just a title. As a proper “ambassador”, a go between for the British government and Trump, perhaps Farage would be better place; leading negotiations, whether over trade, intelligence, or defence, Farage might find more scope for personal initiative, and here his charm with Trump might best be used. He could be our “Trump” card in negotiations. However, even then, the constraints that are placed on Farage as a servant of the crown would be fairly onerous for him, I’d imagine.

The biggest obstacle to Farage’s assumption of any power in the British government is it’s overt hostility to him, and his overt hostility to it. Neither side can see eye-to-eye, with threats coming from Farage to finish his “revolution” (however misplaced his use of the term is), and the government firmly denying any role for Farage whilst they’re in power. It derives from how May wants to steer her government: it’s business as usual, there’s no need to worry the markets, and that her government listens and acts on voter’s concerns. There’s much logic to this in fact. Why should the wish of (a minority) of American voters suddenly dictate Britain’s own politics in such a drastic measure? The experience of years of our “Special Relationship” with the US should have taught us that slavishly following the American’s every whim never ends well – we get taken for granted, ignored, and mocked.

So Farage as ambassador is out of the question -The role doesn’t suit him,  he doesn’t suit our government, and why should our government’s agenda suit Trump’s whims?

Farage has a bright future ahead of him, if not as ambassador If his role is not in government (yet) he surely, as the only figurehead of Brexit not sullied by the experiences and disappointments of May’s government so far (failure to make any headway on Brexit, failure to enact any important legislation save the hated Snooper’s Charter, an aloof style of government) could lead the hard Brexiteers should he desire. Whether as leader of UKIP (for a fifth time), or taking a more cross-party approach, sucking up disaffected Conservative and Labour voters, he does have the opportunity to shape British politics. As one of the few politicians considered “outsider” (whatever his history working in investment banks, and connection with the wealthy elite), he can pick up on the anti-establishment feeling that has been inflamed across Britain and the world.

Alternatively, America beckons. The irony if Farage was to be posted as American ambassador to Britain or the EU could not fail to amuse, whatever your political leanings, but the same limitations for him apply in that role, as in the British. He’d do well to avoid becoming one of Trump’s “attack dogs”, like Newt Gingrich or Chris Christie, who were shunted aside by Trump the minute he’d won the presidency, and their usefulness thus at an end.

Wherever Farage’s future is headed, the government on this side of the pond would do well to keep tabs on him. His heady combination of personal charisma amongst pro-Brexit voters, and backing from powerful business and journal interests, makes him a potent force to lead an insurgency against the Labour-Conservative politics that don’t function properly.



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