'A more realistic view of the UK': Australian High Commissoner praises Romford during flying visit
PUBLISHED: 19:05 09 February 2018 | UPDATED: 19:05 09 February 2018
If you were in Romford Market today (Friday, February 9), you might have spotted an unusual visitor.
Romford MP Andrew Rosindell had invited the Australian High Commissioner, Alexander Downer, for a tour of the town centre.
After a walk through the marketplace, Mr Downer was introduced to a number of representatives from Havering Council before being celebrated at a drinks reception.
Speaking during the tour, the high commissioner told the Recorder: “It’s been great. I find it very interesting to be here and to have had the opportunity to talk to some of the people of Romford.
“They’re very passionate people, and I think you get a much more realistic view of the UK talking to them than you do talking to people at diplomatic receptions in London.”
But the diplomat couldn’t help make one joke at the nation’s expense on the back of the England cricket team’s recent Ashes defeat.
“In many ways they’re very much like Australians,” he said.
“But not quite as good at sports.”
Mr Downer, who was given a tour of Romford Market and the new Sapphire Ice and Leisure Centre in Western Road during his visit, also marvelled at the size of the town’s shopping centres.
Mr Rosindell said visits such as the high commissioners would play an important role in enhancing Romford’s reputation.
The MP, who is chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for Australia and New Zealand, said: “It’s been such an honour to have Alexander here, on what must surely be the first visit of a senior diplomat to Romford from one of our most firm allies such as Australia.
“I think with Brexit, which this constituency voted overwhelmingly in favour of, it is more important than ever to prove that we are looking at the international role we can play alongside countries such as Australia.
“We are very similar. We even share the same queen.”
And Mr Rosindell believed the high commissioner has enjoyed his unique Romford experience.
“He loved having a little bit of banter with some of the market traders,” he said.
“He actually said he was impressed by their robustness, and that he thought they showed more patriotism than some of our own politicians.”