Turnbull delays London appointment

Alexander Downer’s term as high commissioner is formally up in May. Katia Christodoulou/AAP

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is believed to have deferred the appointment of a new high commissioner to the United Kingdom until at least the end of this year.

Turnbull is understood to remain anxious for Attorney-General George Brandis to take the plum diplomatic post, now occupied by a former Liberal foreign minister, Alexander Downer. Downer’s term is formally up in May.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is said to be less enthusiastic about the appointment of Brandis, but it is Turnbull’s call, not hers.

Turnbull’s thinking suggests he would likely delay a reshuffle of his ministry for some months.

There has been speculation of a mid-year reshuffle, but the disadvantage of this would be that it could interfere with the selling of measures coming out of the budget. It would also make more sense to freshen the team closer to the election.

Downer was in Canberra last week for the consultations with ambassadors and high commissioners about the forthcoming foreign policy white paper.