'Australia-UK trade deal closer to reality' Phillip Coorey and Tom McIlroy, The Australian
Boris Johnson's landslide win in the British election means Australia is just over a year away from commencing a free trade deal with the United Kingdom, the Morrison government said.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham noted that if the UK meets its Brexit deadline of January 31, 2020, as indicated by Mr Johnson, formal negotiations for an FTA can begin within weeks.
That means negotiations can be concluded and an agreement signed and ratified all within the one-year transition period after Britain leaves the EU. The free trade deal would come into effect immediately after the transition period ends.
Senator Birmingham reiterated that the second Britain was ready, "Australia stands ready to shift into formal negotiations towards an Australia-UK free trade agreement, and we would look to conclude a deal as quickly as possible".
In anticipation of Brexit, an informal bilateral working group has been discussing an FTA for the past two years.
"This working group will mean we are well-positioned to kick off formal negotiations as soon as the UK is in a position to do so,'' he said.
Mr Johnson's victory also led to accolades for former federal Liberal Party deputy director Isaac Levido, a prodigy of the Crosby-Textor stable who headed Mr Johnson's campaign after helping engineer Scott Morrison's victory on May 18.
Federal Liberal Party director Andrew Hirst described Mr Levido as a consummate political professional.
"He did a great job for the Liberal Party and he has clearly done an outstanding job for Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party.''
Mr Levido worked for the British Conservatives at the 2015 and 2017 elections.
He was the Conservatives campaign director for the 2019 election, helped by Crosby-Textor's British company CTF Partners and New Zealanders Sean Topham and Ben Guerin, all of whom also worked on Mr Morrison's campaign.
Colleagues described Mr Levido as one of the best in the business when it came to using research to develop and target campaign messages.
"He's very thoughtful, quiet, doesn't panic, very calm and a superb magician.''
Prime Minister Scott Morrison congratulated Mr Johnson on Friday, saying he'd won "a resounding victory" to be returned as UK PM.
"Looking forward to the stability this brings and a new deal for Oz with the UK," he wrote on social media.
"Say g’day to the quiet Britons for us."
Speaking in Queensland before the result was confirmed, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said there were "tough times ahead" for the UK.
"Brexit is a major challenge. The issue of Scotland and its attitude towards the Union, the borders between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – all of these issues are going to be difficult to be resolved.
"But it is up to the people of the UK to determine their future," he said.
Mr Johnson is well known to conservatives in Australia and paid an unusual tribute to the national capital in a 2015 interview with The Canberra Times.
"I love Canberra, I once spent a night sleeping in a roundabout in Canberra," he said.
Once bitten, not shy
"I was driving there and I was about 18 and I got totally lost and I dossed down for the night in a roundabout. Well, I woke up and discovered it was a roundabout.
"It was terrible. I thought it would be OK, then I got woken up by the traffic and then I looked at my hands, my hands had swollen up like blown-up washing up gloves because I had been so badly bitten."
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