“Happy Hour at the Hay-Adams With Nigel Farage, Brexit’s Bad Boy” – New York Times

Settling into a red chintz high-backed chair a week ago at Off the Record, the subterranean bar in the Hay-Adams hotel across from the White House that teems with so many of the capital’s mandarins, the British politician Nigel Farage surveyed the room over a Tanqueray gin and tonic.

“I feel very, very at home here,” he declared in his gravelly voice. “I might come out of J.F.K. and someone will say something a little bit nasty to me and I might get a comment walking down the street that’s a bit juicy, but there’s no more than that.” The political class here is more live-and-let-live, Mr. Farage believes, than in England, where he has been pelted with eggs, received death threats and had his children bullied following his effective advocacy of Brexit.

“You go into a bar like this at night and they’re out drinking, meeting people,” said Mr. Farage, who is 53 and confirmed a separation from his wife last year. “In Britain they’d be going, ‘Oh my God, we’ll be on the front page of the Sunday papers!”’

It wasn’t nighttime, but 4:30 in the afternoon — well into happy hour by English standards. Drinking at the next table were Arron Banks, the businessman who was a major financier of the Brexit campaign, and Andy Wigmore, a spokesman for the movement to leave the European Union, as well as Mr. Farage’s press agent and his radio producer.

The self-proclaimed “Bad Boys of Brexit” were in town for the Conservative Political Action Conference, where Mr. Farage was to be a keynote speaker the next day, just a few hours after President Trump spoke. Since touching down at Dulles airport 24 hours earlier, he had had dinners, speeches, very little sleep, some “Fox & Friends” banter in the morning and lots of afternoon CPAC selfies with hordes of young conservatives who idolize him.

This was Mr. Farage’s third time attending the conference. This year, he said, “there’s a lot of energy. More energy and optimism on the whole than there would have been three weeks ago. I think Trump’s had a relatively good two or three weeks.”

Even with high-school students staging protests against gun laws in front of the White House?

“O.K., look, there is an enormous cultural divide between England and America on guns,” Mr. Farage admitted. “I think, you know, the concept of bump stocks, just bizarre. Just bizarre that that should be allowed. And I’m a little surprised it’s taken so long since Vegas for some of these things to get said. And should there be scrutiny on people that go in the shops and want to buy high-velocity rifles? Of course there should.”

He wondered if all schools in America will soon become “like Heathrow Airport,” with metal detectors and armed security.

But characteristically, he praised Mr. Trump. “At least that conversation is happening. I think that’s what he’s doing.”

Mr. Farage is perhaps the president’s closest ally in England. When he was in town this time last year, he dined with the president, the first lady, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, at Trump Hotel. (Mr. Farage gets some precious face time and a photo-op with the president this week, too, backstage at CPAC.) Curiously, this special relationship has not endeared him to the British establishment in D.C.; when the embassy had a party for Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Mr. Farage was not among the hundreds who received an invitation, despite the fact that he is in town half a dozen times a year, by his own assessment.

And the same month Mr. Trump won the election, he tweeted that Mr. Farage should be named ambassador to the United States, sending the British government into an uproar.

“I’m persona non grata,” Mr. Farage said, with some pride. “The embassy here basically regrets Brexit and Trump. They won’t say so, but they do. It’s obvious. So the idea that the British embassy would not talk to me given my relationship with the president and with the people around him is, I do not necessarily think, in our national interest. But others can make their own minds up about that.”

He agreed that foreign relations between the White House and 10 Downing Street, the headquarters of British government, have only grown frostier in recent months. But not because of Mr. Trump, he insisted.

“He has reached out, he’s offered the hand of friendship, and frankly we’ve spurned him,” Mr. Farage said. In November President Trump was criticized by the British prime minister, Theresa May, after sharing violent anti-Muslim videos from a fringe British ultranationalist group on Twitter. He reacted defensively.

Mr. Farage dismissed this episode as “a hysterical load of rubbish,” pointing out that Mr. Trump was simply sharing something he discovered through the conservative commentator Ann Coulter, one of only 45 people Mr. Trump follows on Twitter.

The anti-Trump sentiment is “not representative of the entire U.K.,” Mr. Farage said. It’s certainly widespread, though: During Mr. Trump’s first month in office, a petition to block him from making his first official state visit to England was signed more than a million times, at one point by more than a thousand people per minute.

If it were up to Mr. Farage, he would circumvent the British government entirely, rent out Wembley Stadium, invite Mr. Trump to speak, charge 20 pounds a ticket and donate the proceeds to charity.

“Knockout,” he said gleefully. “Are people going to protest against raising money for charity? They can if they want to!”

Back home, the political party that Mr. Farage headed for years and used to orchestrate Brexit, UKIP, voted last week to oust its leader, Henry Bolton, after it was revealed that his girlfriend had made racist remarks about Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s bride-to-be.

“I don’t get it,” Mr. Farage said, shaking his head angrily. “I think Meghan Markle adds glamour and sparkle to the royal family.” He thinks the royal wedding, and the fact that Ms. Markle is American, will be good for the country. “Harry is regarded as Mr. Cool, and it further strengthens the Anglo-American relationship, so it gets ticks from me all the way around.”

Mr. Farage’s staunchest supporters have called for him to again lead UKIP, once referred to by David Cameron, the former British prime minister, as the party of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists.” (Mr. Farage considers this his very own “basket of deplorables” moment.)

Would he consider running the party again? “No,” he said, flatly, claiming he has aged out of party politics.

Still, Mr. Farage retained enough vim to travel in September to Alabama to join an old friend, Steve Bannon, and campaign for Roy Moore in the special Senate election. The accompanying Breitbart headline read: “Brexit Hero Farage in Alabama: Judge Roy Moore ‘Not Going to Be Sucked Into the Swamp.’”

After Mr. Bannon was quoted accusing Donald Trump Jr. of treason in the book “Fire and Fury,” he was defenestrated from the tallest tower of castle Breitbart and denounced on the The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page by the right-wing megadonor Rebekah Mercer, whose father, Robert, reportedly has ties to Mr. Farage. (He refuses to elaborate on this relationship.)

Mr. Farage still speaks positively about Mr. Bannon but says that he has not talked to him since his ouster from Trumpworld. “Things have gone rather wrong in the last few months,” he said.

Still, Mr. Farage says he doesn’t regret throwing his support behind Mr. Moore and grows testy when pressed on this. “All my staff know I’ve got what I call the ‘seven out of 10 rule.’ As long as I’m right seven times out of 10 in politics, it will be O.K. You can’t get everything right.”

Mr. Farage may soon have another reason to stick around the United States, particularly California. There has been talk of “Brexit: The Movie” and Mr. Farage says he has taken several Hollywood meetings.

“It is quite a good little story,” he said. “It’s a real David versus Goliath story, isn’t it? And don’t forget how long this took. I used to joke that I was the Billy Graham of Euroskeptic politics, just touring the country speaking.” He looks up and notes: “And I see he’s died in the last 24 hours. What an amazing man. I love him. Just fantastic.”

Kevin Spacey was among the actors mentioned as a possibility to play Mr. Farage. “That may well have changed,” he said with a devilish grin. Besides, “the only person who could possibly do it is me.”