Who Is Crawford Falconer? The Trade Adviser Favoured By Eurosceptics To Takeover Brexit Talks

18 March 2019, 14:22

Crawford Falconer is the chief trade negotiation adviser for the Department for International Trade
Crawford Falconer is the chief trade negotiation adviser for the Department for International Trade. Picture: Gov

Amid reports Theresa May could sack her chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins, one suggestion being put forward to replace him is Crawford Falconer.

On Monday, the Evening Standard reported Mr Robbins could be replaced in a last-minute attempt by the Prime Minister to save her Brexit deal.

Mr Robbins has been widely unpopular with Eurosceptic Conservative MPs since he took up the top role in September 2017.

Now, as speculation mounts that he could be soon out of a job, there’s one alternative whose name has already bee raised by none other than Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Speaking to LBC on Monday, Mr Rees-Mogg told Nick Ferrari: “Crawford Falconer is much respected as a trade negotiator”.

Who is Crawford Falconer?

Mr Falconer is a senior civil servant who currently sits as the UK’s chief trade negotiation adviser.

He is based in the Department for International Trade (DIT) and took up his current position in 2017 during the run-up to Brexit.

The 65-year-old is a dual-national UK and New Zealand citizen.

He previously spent over 25 years working on trade policy and trade negotiations, including as the New Zealand chief negotiator and adviser.

He was also New Zealand Ambassador to the World Trade Organization, and been a judge on over 15 WTO international trade disputes.

Mr Crawford is a dual-national UK and New Zealand citizen.
Mr Crawford is a dual-national UK and New Zealand citizen. Picture: Getty

What has Crawford Falconer previously said about Brexit?

In July 2018, Mr Falconer described the opportunities of Brexit as “enormous” and that people will look back and ask, “why were we so negative about our future?”.

In an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine, he said the world was “begging” to trade with the UK.

In October 2018, Mr Falconer warned he would be out of a job if the UK decided to stay in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he said he would be redundant if the UK were unable to pursue an independent trade policy.

“If we stay in a customs union forever and day, it won’t be a question of me quitting, my job will be taken away. Because you wouldn’t need to have anybody to do trade negotiations, if you’re in a customs union,” he said.

A month later, the Business Insider reporter Mr Falconer was on the verge of quitting over frustration with the Prime Minister’s Brexit withdrawal deal.

A source told the paper: “He more or less came out of retirement for professional interest in hashing out trade deals.

“If the meatier parts of that job might have to wait until 2022, would someone in that position want to hang around?"

A DIT spokesperson said there was "no truth to these claims”.

In February, The Sun claimed that the experienced chief trade negotiator had held just one face-to-face meeting with the UK's current chief Brexit negotiator Mr Robbins.

How much does Crawford Falconer earn?

Mr Falconer’s salary band is given as £260,000 to £264,999.

It is more than the Prime Minister and £100,000 a year more than DIT permanent secretary Antonia Romeo, whose band is £160,000-£164,999.