Nigel Farage should not “hold his breath” in expectation of a government approach for help with relations with the administration of US President-elect Donald Trump, Chancellor Philip Hammond has said.
Mr Farage beat Prime Minister Theresa May to secure the first meeting of a senior UK politician with the president-elect, and Mr Trump shocked Westminster by suggesting that the interim Ukip leader would make a good ambassador to Washington.
Supporters of Mr Farage marked the proposal by presenting him with a tray of Ferrero Rocher chocolates at a reception at London’s Ritz hotel on Wednesday night to celebrate his 25-year contribution to the battle for Brexit.
Handing the chocolates round like the diplomat in the famous “ambassador’s reception” TV advert, Mr Farage left no doubt that he was ready to perform a go-between role with the Trump administration, where he has long-standing links with figures like chief strategist Steve Bannon.
But Mr Hammond said: “We’ve got an excellent ambassador to the United States, someone that I have worked with in the past, both as foreign secretary and in other roles. We have very strong relationships with the United States at all levels and I am confident that the special relationship we have will continue and will prosper under the new presidency when it starts in January.
“But it isn’t for other countries to decide who we appoint as ambassadors and if I ever need any advice from Nigel Farage, I’ve got his number, and I’ll give him a call. Tell him not to hold his breath.”
Speaking at the glittering reception, hosted by Leave.EU founder Arron Banks and attended by Brexiteers including Tory MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Peter Bone, Ukip leadership contender Paul Nuttall and Labour donor John Mills, Mr Farage predicted a “seismic shock” if the UK has not left the European Union by the time of the next general election.
Mr Farage said Brexit remained “unfinished business” and promised he would be sticking around to take part in the battles to come.