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How George Brandis made his mark in London and UK politics


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“He didn’t lose any time in reaching out to people, with an approachable, straightforward and honest manner as well as an attitude towards just getting things done,” Javid says.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the minister closest to Brandis, says he has been a “hugely consequential ambassador”.

Brandis’ time period has not been with out controversybut he recollects one in all Whitehall’s most senior bureaucrats observing that to make a authorities coverage widespread in Britain, “all we have to do is prefix something with the words Australia-style and everyone thinks it’s a good idea”.

Australia’s powerful China stance has additionally not gone unnoticed. “Jacob Rees-Mogg said to me quite recently: ‘The most important thing Australia has done for the United Kingdom is not the FTA, it’s not AUKUS, it’s that you have awakened us to the China threat and more than any other country in the world you were the ones who did it’,” Brandis says.

But Australia owes Britain, too.

“The FTA is now signed, AUKUS is done, the relationship between Australia and the UK has not been better  ... This is a terrific time to turn the page,” Brandis says.

“The FTA is now signed, AUKUS is done, the relationship between Australia and the UK has not been better … This is a terrific time to turn the page,” Brandis says. Credit:Liliana Zaharia

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison put out the decision to Australia’s diplomats to supply Pfizer vaccines that might be loaned to Australia, simply three international locations responded: Singapore, Poland and Britain.

Javid remembers taking the primary request throughout a telephone name in August 2021. “It’s a big thing to trust another country with something so precious, especially at that time,” he recollects.

But the British knew simply how a lot Australians wanted the mRNA vaccines. Morrison was below relentless strain to hurry up Australia’s sluggish rollout – the one finish to the lockdowns and border closures that had dominated Australia’s pandemic response.

Europe had blocked export of AstraZeneca provides at a time when the doses being made in Melbourne weren’t but prepared. While the vaccine, developed at Oxford University, later fell out of favour over blood-clotting fears, on the time it was thought of the workhorse of Australia’s vaccine rollout.

Javid and his adviser, Samuel Coates, who labored in Australia for the Liberals on the 2013 marketing campaign, requested their vaccine taskforce what number of doses Britain might handle to provide. The reply was about 4 million. It can be the biggest recorded vaccine swap between international locations.

“Thanks to George and his personal involvement, I don’t think it could have gone any faster. It was a success because of his personal involvement,” Javid says.

Brandis believes a lot of his success lies together with his capacity to speak with former cupboard colleagues in Australia and new associates in Westminster.

But he wasn’t at all times this certain. Early in his time period, whereas watching a debate on the Commons, he was alarmed to listen to a Labour frontbencher misrepresenting Australia’s place on commerce.

He texted Australia’s then commerce minister Simon Birmingham and suggested him to message his British counterpart Liam Fox. From his seat within the gallery, Brandis caught Fox’s eye and gestured that he examine his telephone.

Fox swiftly rebuffed his opponent and corrected the document within the House about Australia’s true place.

Brandis sought the counsel of John Dauth, an expert diplomat. Assured by Dauth that the Commons texting intervention was precisely what he must be doing to face up for Australia’s pursuits, Brandis’ confidence grew.

“From that moment on, I began to appreciate just how much better the outcomes I could get for Australia, of which the vaccine swap deal is probably the best example, by being unabashed about having been a senior politician,” he says.

“There are certain things that somebody who’s been a senior cabinet minister can do that a professional diplomat wouldn’t dream of doing like deal with political leaders and cabinet ministers in the host country in a very direct political way.”

His authentic mission when despatched to London was to safe Australia a free-trade settlement.

As the British system suffered its “political heart attack” because it tried to execute Brexit, Brandis quietly spent one of the best a part of 2020 making associates with cupboard rising star Liz Truss, who had simply been appointed commerce secretary.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Brandis discuss the Australia-UK security relationship on their flight to Sydney for AUKMIN talks.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Brandis talk about the Australia-UK safety relationship on their flight to Sydney for AUKMIN talks.

She grew to become an everyday customer to the High Commissioner’s official residence, Stoke Lodge, attending working breakfasts and weekend croquet matches on the lawns, generally even staying on after dinner for a spontaneous karaoke session – normally to ABBA’s Dancing Queen or Waterloo.

“They say that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, our FTA was clinched on the croquet lawns of Stoke Lodge,” Brandis boasts.

But their friendship didn’t assure a deal. Brandis confronted huge hostility from Tory backbenchers and the British farming union, who insisted the commerce deal had bought them out. He ended up calling each single Tory backbench MP, and spent every week in Wales speaking to farmers.

“I drew upon every lesson I’d ever learned as a practising politician to run a political campaign to sell the FTA to sceptical Tories,” Brandis says.

George Brandis’ handwritten note showing the quotas agreed for Australian sheep and beef producers as agreed by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the UK’s Boris Johnson at Downing Street.

George Brandis’ handwritten word exhibiting the quotas agreed for Australian sheep and beef producers as agreed by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the UK’s Boris Johnson at Downing Street.

At occasions, Brandis needed to go head-to-head towards the British civil service and pit his personal political perception towards theirs.

This got here to a head when Brandis discovered the British authorities was being suggested to publicly hector Morrison on local weather change with the aim of forcing Australia to enroll to a net-zero carbon pledge in time for the Glasgow local weather summit.

Brandis knew Morrison was engaged on the get together room, and that attempting to disgrace the federal government internationally would derail the backroom positive aspects he was making. Brandis spoke to the Lords Minister for the Environment, Zac Goldsmith.

“I said: ‘Who are you going to trust to interpret politics of the government party room to you? Just trust me – Morrison will sort this’.”

Morrison quickly introduced a net-zero goal in time for COP26.

At 64, Brandis is coy about whether or not his future holds any additional public service. He ends his diplomatic profession 22 years to the day after being chosen by the LNP to fill a Senate informal emptiness and says he goes out on a excessive.

“The FTA is now signed, AUKUS is done, the relationship between Australia and the UK has not been better in anyone’s memory. This is a terrific time to turn the page,” he says.



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