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U.K. Rejects Trump's Call For Nigel Farage To Be Ambassador To The U.S.


President-elect Donald Trump has recommended the United Kingdom choose someone he likes to be ambassador to the U.S., Nigel Farage. That's the leader of the U.K.'s Independence Party. He championed Britain's exit from the European Union. And Trump has tweeted he would do a great job as ambassador. The U.K.'s prime minister's office is not amused. For more on this diplomatic story, we turn to Frank Langfitt in London. Hey there, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hey, Audie. How are you doing?

CORNISH: Good. So we mentioned, obviously, countries choose their own ambassadors. So how is this going down in London?

LANGFITT: Not very well. You know, people here are kind of irritated and puzzled. The prime minister's office, of course, has said, no thanks. We already have an ambassador. And the line from Downing Street - the spokesman there was very dry, very British - said there is no vacancy. A lot of people are kind of shaking their heads at this. Vanessa Feltz is - she does the "Breakfast" talk show on BBC Radio London. And she described Trump's recommendation this morning like this. She said it's kind of like a father telling his unmarried daughter whom she should marry.

CORNISH: But what is the relationship between Farage and Donald Trump? I know people have talked about Brexit and the Trump movement. But what do they actually have in common?

LANGFITT: Well, they kind of seem like kindred spirits. You know, Farage - key architect of the Brexit campaign. And he's the closest equivalent to Trump on the British political landscape. Both of these guys ran nationalistic, anti-globalization, anti-immigrant campaigns - in the case here, to leave the EU. And they were both running against the odds. And, like Trump, Farage surprised people and won. And, of course, right after Trump's victory - this was a big surprise - Farage actually went to meet him in New York City.

CORNISH: Tell us more about that meeting 'cause I gather this has raised more questions about Trump and his business interests.

LANGFITT: It has. We've learned in the last few days that there was a really interesting thread in the conversation in the meeting. Trump repeatedly criticized wind farms in Scotland and urged some of the people in attendance to campaign against them. Now, you know, this is a president-elect in the United States. And this would seem a - kind of an odd thing for somebody to bring up.

I mean, it's hard to imagine President Obama in a first meeting with a foreign politician bringing up wind farms in Scotland. But the reason is this all flows from Trump's business experience. He owns two golf courses in Scotland, as we've reported before. And he fought plans to build a wind farm near one of them because it was ruining the view.

CORNISH: So this adds to an ongoing conversation, you think?

LANGFITT: Absolutely. You know, ethicists are looking at this and some of the earlier cases that I know we've been talking about on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED in which he's been meeting with some business interests that he has. And so one of the concerns is a blurring of the lines between Trump's role as president and businessman.

Now, I texted somebody who was actually in that meeting in New York with Farage and Trump. And he said, you know, the wind-farm conversation was general. They weren't talking about specific sites. And the guy I talked to already agreed with Trump on the issue. So it wasn't like he was being converted. But it is very unusual to have an incoming president urging foreign politicians and activists to fight something that he fought himself on behalf of his investments as a private businessman.

CORNISH: Do you think this could have a lasting effect on U.S.-U.K. relations? - as they're just getting started - right? - just before the president-elect takes office.

LANGFITT: You know this whole thing with Trump recommending his own guy for DC I don't think is going to have a lasting effect in the U.K. It's a long, good relationship with - between the kingdom and the United States. And U.K. diplomats are certainly grownups. On the other hand, if Donald Trump keeps violating diplomatic protocol, this could go over a lot worse with other countries. I used to work in China. And the Chinese are very sensitive to this sort of stuff. And he could really insult people out there. And there could be a backlash.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Frank Langfitt in London. Frank, thanks so much.

LANGFITT: Happy to do it, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.