Britain to follow US in picking business bosses as global ambassadors after Brexit

Posted On: 
31st October 2018

Britain will follow the lead of the US and install business leaders as ambassadors instead of civil servants after Brexit, Jeremy Hunt will announce today.

Donald Trump appointed Woody Johnson (right) as his London ambassador
PA Images

The Foreign Secretary will argue the UK must not “close our eyes” to the skills in the business sector as he announces a boost to the diplomatic services of 1,000 new personnel.

British ambassadors have traditionally been long-standing civil servants, while in the US the president gets to choose whoever they want subject to Senate approval.

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US commander in chief Donald Trump hired Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets football team, as his London ambassador last year.

Mr Hunt will argue a shake-up of the diplomatic service will help to redefine the British relationship with the rest of the world after it quits the European Union next March.

He will tell an audience at the Policy Exchange think tank: "The strength of our network is its professionalism, which has given us what I believe is the finest diplomatic service in the world.

"But we must never close our eyes to the approaches and skills of other industries."

The personnel expansion will include 335 new diplomatic positions overseas, 328 in London, and 329 "new locally engaged staff" abroad.

Mr Hunt will add: "Our network of friendships is unparalleled. But they are underpinned by something more than shared history, shared language or shared culture.

"They are underpinned by the values - democracy, the rule of law, the separation of powers, respect for individual civil and political rights, a belief in free trade - that bind us.

"When these values are under threat, Britain's role - indeed obligation - is to defend them.

"Which is why to do so, we must become an invisible chain linking the world's democracies."