Farage defends Trump as he heads back to US

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Nigel Farage will return to the United States within days as he continues to pose a diplomatic headache to Theresa May over his closeness to US President-elect Donald Trump.

The interim Ukip leader mounted a fresh defence of the tycoon ahead of his visit to the US, saying that while he had been capable of going "over the top" during the election campaign he would be a unifying force in the White House.

The Republican president-elect has suggested that Mr Farage would make a "great" ambassador to the United States but Downing Street has flatly rejected calls to take advantage of his links to the Trump camp.

Mr Farage said: "I'm happy to help, formally or informally. I'm happy just to make an introduction. But I just think it's ridiculous, petty and potentially against the national interest for our Government not even to ring me up to have a chat with me, let alone ask me to make some introductions.

"It isn't just Trump, there are quite a few members of Trump's team, people now taking quite senior positions, that I have known and got on with for years."

Hosting a show on LBC Radio, he added: "Regardless of what Downing Street thinks, I'm going back to America at the end of this week, I'm going to meet all sorts of people and I shall say to them 'regardless of whether the Government uses me or not, please forgive some of the things that were said about your president during the election campaign, it's in both of our interests to get closer."

Responding to critics of Mr Trump's brash style, Mr Farage said: "He's talked about a country coming together, he's talked about being the president for all Americans regardless of their race or their background.

"Sometimes things get said in election campaigns that are bitter, heated and I think people are quite capable - Donald Trump himself - of, at times, going over the top."

But he said Mr Trump would be a "different president to perhaps what you saw with some of those platform speeches during the campaign".

The new Ukip leader will be announced on Monday and Mr Farage set out the toll his political activities had taken on his personal life, claiming he required constant security because of threats to his safety.

He told the Sunday Express: "I've got no life - I can't do anything, I can't go anywhere. Certainly I would not go out in London of an evening on my own without security - couldn't even think about it.

"I can't even walk down the street without it. I have to go to private places, private venues.

"The thought of doing a Friday night pub crawl around Westminster - I just can't do it any more."

Mr Farage, who said he was threatened with a glass on Thursday night, said the trouble had become worse since Mr Trump's election success.

He added: "It might diminish, it might not. The America dimension changed everything.

"It's been so full-on, unbelievable really."