Australians have a way of causing a stir in the old motherland of Britain.
From Germaine Greer to Clive James, Kylie Minogue, Rolf Harris, the Murdochs and countless cricketers, high-profile names from Down Under have gained fame, and in some cases infamy, in the UK.
When it comes to politics, former Prime Minister Paul Keating became the "Lizard of Oz" to British tabloids when on a 1992 visit he touched the Queen's back in what was considered a breach of protocol.
Influential Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby has had a hand in shaping recent British politics including the Conservative 2015 general election victory that resulted in the referendum on leaving the European Union a year later.
Now former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been appointed to the UK's Board of Trade as an unpaid adviser, as part of a post-Brexit push for business deals.
Abbott, who had a two-year reign during a tumultuous decade of politics which saw six leadership changes in the top job, was arguably the most colourful and controversial Australian prime minister of the modern era.
Known for being photographed in budgie smugglers and cycling lycra, Abbott is a former Rhodes Scholar who once wanted to be a priest. Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard accused Abbott in Parliament of being a misogynist.
His previous views and record on same-sex marriage, climate change, and other issues have been chewed over in the UK press in the lead-up to his appointment. Some Labour and Conservative MPs said he was unfit to represent the UK. Asked about Abbott's views, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock replied: "Well, he's also an expert in trade."
Britain is working towards its own trade agreements with New Zealand, Australia, the US, and Japan. Abbott's appointment probably helps the Government on what it takes to get deals through and makes use of his insider contacts and knowledge.
On Twitter, Abbott pointed out that: "My government finalised trade deals between Australia and China, Japan and [South] Korea".
He also said: "A UK-Australia trade deal, maximising the movement of goods, services and people is clearly in the best interests of both our countries."
Boris Johnson is not hiring Tony Abbott for his trade expertise | Larry Elliott https://t.co/Q8itVIGxF5— Guardian Australia (@GuardianAus) September 3, 2020
Behind the headlines, the Abbott row is happening at a very tricky time for Britain.
In January, Bloomberg estimated that Brexit had already cost the country £130 billion ($257b) with a further £70b likely to be added by the end of the year.
Then the Covid-19 coronavirus hit. Britain had a late and a long lockdown.
The BBC reported last month that the UK Government was expecting to borrow about £55b for the financial year, but it borrowed £128b in the first three months alone. Spending to bolster public services, businesses and people is about £190b.
Britain's GDP fell by 20.4 per cent between April and June. A job support scheme is due to end in late October, and is expected to push the unemployment rate to 9 or 10 per cent.
Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has revived plans for a possible second Scottish referendum on independence from the UK https://t.co/aw2rb7yjsD— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) September 1, 2020
The transition period for Britain's withdrawal from the EU ends on December 31.
Before then, any trade deal must be presented for ratification to the European Parliament by November 26 but the real deadline is the end of October to enable time to draft a treaty. Talks resume in London this week with the risk of a no-deal result growing.
Already under strain from Brexit, the pandemic has piled extra pressure onto the century-old union with the four nations of the UK handling the coronavirus differently.
The support in Scotland for remaining in the UK in the 2014 independence referendum was 55 per cent to 45 per cent but that is on its way to being reversed.
With such financial and political challenges, the British Government probably needs all the trade deals and all the help it can get, even from an old Australian mate.