Former Australian PM Tony Abbott to head new UK trade board 

Mr Abbott will be joint president of Board of Trade with a mission to get trade deals for Britain all over the world

Abbott, who was PM of Australia between 2013 and 2015, was a vocal supporter of Brexit
Abbott, who was PM of Australia between 2013 and 2015, was a vocal supporter of Brexit Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott is to be Britain's new joint president of the Board of Trade.

Mr Abbott, a vocal supporter of Brexit, who led Australia from 2013 to 2015, will be tasked with drumming up deals for the UK around the world, the Sun reported last night.

The Board of Trade has traditionally been made up of British politicians and business executives. Its mission is to "champion exports and inward and outward investment to deliver economic growth and prosperity".

It came as farmers and business chiefs have been given a louder voice to ensure they do not lose out in trade negotiations as ministers bid for a raft of post-Brexit deals.

Bosses in 11 sectors including agriculture, manufacturing and financial services have signed non-disclosure agreements so they can help to shape potential deals with other countries - including commercially sensitive rules on tariffs and rules of origin.

Abbott with the Duke of Cambridge during a royal visit to Canberra in 2014 Credit: GETTY IMAGES

The change is part of a major overhaul of the Government's trade machinery as talks intensify with the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Trade groups had previously expressed concern that such gagging ­orders would prevent them from fully consulting members.

But Liz Truss, Trade Secretary, said: "This is about bringing business closer to the negotiating table and using their expertise to help secure the best possible deals."

Mr Abbott's appointment is part of an effort to champion British economic interests abroad after Brexit.

Last year Mr Abbott said Britain should not worry about a no-deal exit from the European Union. He said: "Let me reassure anyone in Britain, anxious about the prospect of no deal, that Australia does one hundred billion dollars’ worth of trade with the EU every single year, on this very basis.”

Last night a Whitehall source told The Sun: “We are delighted to have him on board.”