What ScoMo said in his ‘secret’ text to Boris
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed details of a private text message from Australian counterpart Scott Morrison ahead of key trade deal talks.
Mr Johnson let slip that Mr Morrison - who sent a message on the day Britain left the EUto open the door to trade talks - has been keeping in close contact.
Mr Johnson told News Corp Australia that a trade deal with Australia was among his top priorities.
"It's hugely important and I think in fact Prime Minister ScoMo texted me on Friday to say how eager he was and we're very excited," he said at an event in Greenwich, London.
He said Australia was at the front of the UK's trade deal queue.
"It's one of the first four but we're doing many others simultaneously," he said, after looking across to Secretary of State Liz Truss.
The comments were a major boost for Mr Morrison and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, who is likely to visit the UK when trade talks are launched.
George Brandis, Australia's High Commissioner to the UK, told News Corp Australia in an exclusive interview at Australia House in London, that Australia was now in the box seat for a jobs boosting trade deal.
"Prime Minister Johnson reaffirmed this morning, as he has made clear before that Australia is in the first tier of countries which his government intends to prioritise for a free-trade agreement," he said.
"Both countries want an ambitious free trade agreement.
"The opportunity for Australian jobs, for exports of both goods and services is very encouraging. I think we should approach this negotiation with reasonably high expectations."
The United States, Japan and New Zealand were the other countries in the running for a fast tracked trade deal, Mr Brandis added.
The UK will have a few fights on its hands to get the free trade deal done with the United States as Donald Trump seeks re-election.
It is understood that Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Japanese Emperor Naruhito, who was educated at Oxford University will visit the UK in the middle of the year to add a sweetener to a deal with Japan.
A UK deal with Japan could be inked by Christmas, while Australia's agreement was more likely to be signed off by the middle of next year.
Mr Johnson was speaking at Greenwich to launch his bid for a new trade deal with the EU, which needs to be signed off by December 31 or risk the introduction of a stream of economy crippling tariffs for both regions.
He said he would either get a trade deal with the EU like Canada had done, or end up with Australia's model that does include tariffs.
Mr Johnson deflected questions about whether that was similar to a no-deal Brexit, which he had repeatedly ruled out.
If that did happen, the new trade deals would be crucial to offset the lack of trade with the EU.
"We will reach out to the rest of the Commonwealth, which now has some of the fastest growing economies in the world," Mr Johnson said.
"We will engage with Japan and the other trans-Pacific agreement countries, with old friends and partners - Australia, New Zealand, Canada - on whom we deliberately turned our backs in the early 1970s."