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Jobs for the Brexit boys: David Mundell to NZ as Ian Botham bats Down Under as new UK trade envoys

David Mundell.
David Mundell.

Former Scottish secretary David Mundell and cricket legend Ian Botham are among a controversial cohort of parliamentarians appointed as the UK’s new trade envoys.

The group, which contains a number of high profile Leave supporters and individuals who helped push through Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, was announced by the Department for International Trade on Monday.

Mr Mundell, who said he was “delighted” with the new job, served as Scottish secretary from May 2015 until July 2019, when he was sacked in a cabinet reshuffle by Boris Johnson after opposing the former London mayor’s bid to become prime minister.

He later backed Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal, despite previously signalling he could resign over any agreement that introduces different arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Going to bat

Former English cricket star Ian Botham, who now sits as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords, has been appointed as envoy to Australia, 40 years after he helped England to a victory in the Ashes.

England cricket legend Sir Ian Botham.

International trade secretary Liz Truss predicted Lord Botham will “do a brilliant job” in a tweet announcing the appointments and said he will “bat for UK business down under”.

Baroness Kate Hoey, a controversial former Labour MP and outspoken Brexit supporter, has been made trade envoy to Ghana, while DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson becomes envoy to Cameroon.

John Woodcock, a former Labour MP who endorsed the Conservatives at the last General Election and also backed Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal, has been appointed to Tanzania.

The full list

  • Lord Botham appointed to Australia
  • Baroness Hoey appointed to Ghana
  • Stephen Timms MP appointed to Switzerland and Liechtenstein
  • David Mundell MP appointed to New Zealand
  • Mark Eastwood MP appointed to Pakistan
  • Marco Longhi MP appointed to Brazil
  • Conor Burns MP appointed to Canada
  • Lord Walney [John Woodcock] appointed to Tanzania
  • Felicity Buchan MP appointed to Iceland and Norway
  • Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP appointed to Cameroon, in addition to his role as prime minister’s trade envoy to Egypt

The UK Government said the new trade envoys will “use their skills, experience, and market knowledge to help UK businesses find new export and investment opportunities and promote UK trade in their allocated market”.

Mr Mundell highlighted the existing links between Scotland and New Zealand as he announced the appointment in a tweet on Monday and talked up the prospects of new trade opportunities with the country.

He said: “Delighted to have been appointed UK trade envoy to New Zealand. So many strong links already between the UK, Scotland and my own constituency with New Zealand.

“Looking forward to building on them and fostering new export and investment opportunities.”

A great honour

Sir Ian, a Leave campaigner who attacked the “dying” EU and has been a fierce critic of anti-Brexit voices, was handed a peerage last year alongside other Brexit campaigners.

He said it is a “great honour” to carry out the role in a country that he loves and has come to know so well, having spent a significant amount of his career in Australia.

The UK Government has trade envoys in more than 60 countries and said the new cohort will “build on the UK’s strong relations with key trading countries and work with the Department for International Trade’s global network to break down barriers to trade”.

Liz Truss

Trade envoys are parliamentarians appointed by the prime minister, drawn from both Houses and across the political spectrum, and the roles are unpaid and voluntary.

These new appointments bring the total number of trade envoys who help support the UK’s trade and investment agenda to 36, covering 76 different countries.

Ms Truss said: “Our trade envoys play a key role in delivering our ambitious global trade agenda, and I am delighted the prime minister has appointed ten trade envoys who will boost opportunities for British businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing markets.

“By boosting exports, promoting inward investment and creating high-value, high-paying jobs, our trade envoys will help us build back better from Covid-19, ensuring every part of the UK benefits from our trade strategy.”