Nigel Farage has hailed Donald Trump's White House victory
The former UK Independence Party leader was in Washington DC for Mr Trump’s inauguration – the next step in his extraordinary journey from “fringe party” leader to personal acquaintance of the most powerful person on earth.
On Thursday night, hosting a party at the five-star Hay-Adams Hotel opposite the White House, Mr Farage told cheering guests that Brexit was a rare moment when Britain had set the course for America to follow and not the other way around.
He told them: “I would like to think, in my own little way, that what we did with Brexit was the beginning of what is going to turn out to be a global revolution and that Trump’s victory is a part of that."
Today Mr Farage also hailed prospects for a swift post-Brexit trade deal, saying America’s enthusiasm would strengthen Theresa May’s hand in talks with the EU.
He told Sky News: “What I saw with the Trump team were people who came from the private sector, where time is money, and they said ‘we could get this done and dusted in 90 days’.
“Now, whether it takes 90 days or 120 days isn’t the issue. The point is that this new administration has a can-do attitude of people who are not public sector, they are not nine to five, they are people who will work 24/7 to get things done.”
The point is that this new administration has a can-do attitude
His closeness to the new President is yet another reason for the UK political establishment to loathe the cheeky Brexiteer-in-chief.
In mid-November, he became the first foreign politician to meet Mr Trump after his shock election victory.
The photograph of the pair grinning in front of a glittering golden door at the President-elect’s Trump Tower building in New York became one of the most iconic images of an extraordinary year.
Mr Farage revelled in the shock value and attention it brought him.
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Ukip MEPs oppose Farage's close relationship with Trump
He capitalised on UK government fury by humbly offering to be a “bridge” between Mr Trump and London where he said the establishment had mistakenly ignored the Republican in its certainty that Democrat Hillary Clinton would be the next occupant of the White House.
A furious Downing Street let it be known that it wanted no truck with Mr Farage’s go-between idea – and ministers were reportedly banned from talking to him.
Mr Trump joined the fun, Tweeting that Mr Farage would do “a great job” as British ambassador to the US – forcing Number 10 to point out that there was no vacancy.
The adventures which propelled Mr Farage to near hero status among Trump backers began in earnest last July as the Brexit winner and friends decided to toast their triumph with a trip to the Republic National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, which formally nominated Mr Trump as candidate.
Donald Trump becomes 45th U.S. PRESIDENT
Fri, January 20, 2017
The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States will mark the commencement of the four-year term of Donald Trump as President and Mike Pence as Vice President. A public ceremony will be held on Friday, January 20, 2017, on the West Front of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
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U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington
Mr Farage was apparently quietly sounded out by a member of team Trump but things took off when he and former Leave.EU PR chief Andy Wigmore turned up in a Cleveland bar for a 4am last drink and the politician found himself feted by a gang of celebrating Republicans.
It led to an invitation to Mississippi in August to meet its Trump-backing Governor Phil Bryant – at whose invitation Mr Farage was at the inauguration.
The Mississippi trip coincided with a campaign stop by Mr Trump, and “Mr Brexit” spoke at a fundraising event and then a huge rally where the presidential hopeful’s introduction “Ladies and gentlemen, Nigel Farage!” has become the opener for the MEPs’ new LBC radio call-in show.
Mr Farage was in Washington DC to attend the inauguration
According to Leave.EU co-founder Arron Banks’ memoir The Bad Boys of Brexit, Mr Trump had first greeted Mr Farage off stage with a bear hug and congratulations on “a great job on winning Brexit”.
Mr Farage’s closeness to controversial Mr Trump was strongly opposed by Ukip MEPs, particularly when the candidate’s past comments about groping women came to light.
Mr Farage insisted he did have “reservations” about the Republican but told audiences that if he had a vote he would not cast it for Mrs Clinton “if you paid me … in fact, if she paid me”.
The reservations subsided after Mr Trump’s victory. In November, fresh from a lecture in Florida, Mr Farage joined Mr Wigmore and Mr Banks in New York where they made an date to see Mr Farage’s old friend and senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon, at Trump Tower.
The former Ukip leader said the win was part of a 'global revolution'
A hoped-for phone call with Mr Trump became an hour-long meeting on the 58th floor and handshakes in front of that golden door.
Mr Farage now revels in his status of Trump-knower-in-chief.
This week he told New York Magazine: “I’m very English, Trump’s very American. He’s the only person I’ve ever met who makes me feel like an introvert. But our missions have been remarkably similar. Plus, we’re the two most demonised people in the West!”