Donald Trump will consult Nigel Farage about any policy proposals which will affect the UK before he contacts Theresa May, according to the Ukip leader’s aides.
Steve Bannon, Mr Trump’s chief strategist, will “run ideas” past the Ukip leader before discussing them with the British Prime Minister, Arron Banks – a millionaire donor to Ukip – said.
Mr Banks and Mr Farage met with Mr Bannon and Mr Trump for talks in New York on Saturday.
The news came as ministers vowed to defy Mrs May by holding talks with Mr Farage about his meetings with the president-elect in New York at the weekend.
Downing Street has reacted angrily to a Cabinet backlash over Mrs May’s decision to dismiss Mr Farage’s offer to “mend fences” with the Trump camp after disobliging comments by ministers and Number 10 aides during the US presidential election campaign.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman pointed out that Mr Trump has already said he wants a Reagan-Thatcher style relationship with Mrs May, adding: “I don’t remember there being a third person in that relationship.”
She also added that the Government already had “well-established” channels of communication with the US Government.
Downing Street also hinted that Mrs May was now planning to visit Washington to meet with Mr Trump earlier than expected after originally planning to wait until Mr Trump is sworn as president in January.
Mr Banks said the pair were old friends who spoke or texted eachother “every day – they are best mates”.
He said: “There is no doubt about it that Steve Bannon will talk to Nigel Farage before any other British politician and run stuff by them.”
Mr Banks, Mr Farage and Mr Bannon met for more than an hour in New York on Saturday discussing British and American policy.
He said: “When he opened the door it was like ‘come on on Nigel’. We just sat there chatting for an hour and we ended the meeting. They are as close as two people can be in politics.”
The closeness of their friendship was “not going to go away”, he said, because “Nigel has a hotline to the president and the president’s chief adviser”.
Mr Banks said: “These people have no idea how close their relationship is – it really is close.”
Critics in Number 10 were “stumped because whatever they say or do you can’t undo a relationship with Steve Bannon that goes back years”, he said.
The news came as a ministerial source said the Government should listen to what Mr Farage had learned from his meetings with Mr Trump and his team of advisers.
“The Special Relationship”
The source told The Daily Telegraph: “If he wanted to come along and volunteer information then I am sure the Government would listen to what he has to say.”
Mr Farage scored a huge political coup in becoming the first British politician to meet Mr Trump after his election victory, and said he was ready to play a “constructive” role in fostering close UK relations with the new regime at the White House.
On Monday Mr Farage accused Downing Street of allowing “petty party politics” to get in the way of the national interest by giving the cold shoulder to act as a go-between.
Mr Farage told LBC radio: “It just amazes me that those ghastly little apparatchiks that work in Downing Street put out statements like this.
“It just goes to show they are not really interested in the country or the national interest, they are more concerned about petty party politics and trying to keep me out of everything.
“If you think of America in terms of a business and think of them as a client we want to do business with. What would you do?
“You would use the person who has the connections. Nobody in this administration in the UK has any connections with the Trump team at all, and yet they are prepared on behalf of the country to cut off their noses to spite their faces.”
The Trump – Farage relationship
Trump on Farage:
- “The man behind Brexit. And a man who who led, brilliantly, the United Kingdom Independence Party. Ladies and gentlemen, Nigel Farage.” August 2016, introducing Mr Farage at a rally in Jackson, Mississippi
Farage on Trump:
- “I didn’t go [to the Mississippi rally] to endorse Donald Trump, but he did, after I did my bit, he did say to me, you’ll be my friend for life. Well I tell you what, that’s not bad.” – September 2016
- “I thought he was like a big silverback gorilla prowling the studio” – October 2016, describing Trump’s performance in the second presidential debate
- “Trump likes the UK, talks about his mother’s Scottish birth, owns golf courses here and is entirely comfortable with our culture. More importantly still, he supported Brexit and he says post-Brexit Britain will be at the front of the queue when it comes to trade relationships. What a pleasant change this will make from Obama and Clinton who have looked down and sneered at us.” – November 2016
- “If he did offer me a job I would quite like to be his ambassador to the European Union. I think I would do that job very well.” – November 2016, joking about the role he could play in Trump’s administration