Was it a mere gaffe, or was it on purpose? It is highly unusual for a newly elected head of government to make contact with another country’s opposition leaders before he has made contact with that country’s government. Yet the very first non-US politician to have been received by US President elect Donald Trump is… Nigel Farage!!!
Farage is the leader of the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP), which currently holds only 1 out of 650 seats in the house of Commons and 4 out of 812 at the House of Lords, which certainly does not make him the opposition leader in the UK, but rather makes him seem a rather marginal figure. However, he and his party were among the driving forces behind the Brexit vote earlier this year.
Thus, if he is received long before Trump has made any official contact with British Prime Minister Theresa May, there is a clear message: the true addressees of this provocation (if it was intended as such) is the EU and its institutions, and in particular Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Council President Donald Tusk (how funny- both the US and the UK are now lead by a Donald T….) and EP President Martin Schulz, who both before and after the US elections have been heard making some rather un-diplomatic comments about Mr. Trump. Now they find themselves relegated to the new President’s second, third, and fourth most preferred interlocutors when it comes to discussing the EU. And very clearly, Trump views Brexit as a positive achievement rather than a risk, describing his own election as a “Super-Brexit”…
Difficult and interesting times ahead for the transatlantic relationship.