Ian Botham appointed UK trade ambassador to Australia

Former England cricketer and crossbench peer will ‘bat for business down under’, says Liz Truss

Last modified on Mon 23 Aug 2021 06.58 EDT

Ian Botham, the former England cricketer and crossbench peer, has been appointed a UK trade ambassador to Australia, the government has announced.

He is one of 10 parliamentarians given a new role as a trade envoy, taking the total number of MPs and peers performing unpaid trade ambassador roles to 36.

In a tweet welcoming the appointment, the international trade secretary, Liz Truss, said Botham would “bat for business down under” and help firms seize the opportunities created by the free trade deal with Australia agreed in outline this summer.

Botham is popular with Boris Johnson and his ministers because of his strong support for Brexit and he was given a peerage in the honours list last summer. He is regarded as one of England’s greatest ever cricketers and is well known in Australia, not least because he is credited with almost single-handedly defeating its team in the 1981 Ashes tour.

Truss said the 10 new trade envoys would help to expand business opportunities in some of the world’s fastest growing markets.

She added: “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.”

According to the Department for International Trade, in 2020-21 trade envoys supported more than £16bn in UK exports as part of the department’s export promotion work.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, has been appointed a trade envoy to Cameroon. He already serves as a trade envoy to Egypt.

The former Labour MP Kate Hoey, who sits in the House of Lords as a non-affiliated peer and who, like Botham, was a high-profile Brexit supporter in the 2016 referendum, has been made a trade envoy to Ghana.

John Woodcock, another former Labour MP who is in the Lords as a non-affiliated peer, has been made a trade envoy to Tanzania.

The six other MPs who have been made trade envoys are the Conservatives David Mundell (New Zealand), Conor Burns (Canada), Mark Eastwood (Pakistan), Marco Longhi (Brazil) and Felicity Buchan (Iceland and Norway), and Labour’s Stephen Timms (Switzerland and Liechtenstein).

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