Malcolm Turnbull

PM wanted 'big beast' for London: Brandis

George Brandis is eyeing national security and trade opportunities as he heads to the UK. (AAP)

Former attorney-general George Brandis will be pursuing trade opportunities and more cultural exchanges in his new role as UK High Commissioner.

Outgoing Queensland senator George Brandis has revealed Malcolm Turnbull wanted a "big beast" to take over as UK High Commissioner.

The prime minister will formally recommend the former attorney-general take over from Alexander Downer in the new year.

And on Wednesday Senator Brandis shone some light on their conversations about the position.

"He said to me - I hope he doesn't mind me repeating this part of the conversation - he said 'I want a big beast, I want somebody who is politically a big beast to occupy this job'," Senator Brandis told reporters in Canberra.

He said Mr Turnbull didn't want a professional diplomat for the post but rather a former cabinet minister, as is usually the case for both London and Washington.

"That's been respected by both sides of politics and on both sides of the Atlantic," Senator Brandis said.

Even before he has been officially given the position the resigning senator has already nominated areas of interest during his time in London post-Brexit.

"It's the policy of the Australian government to secure a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom. That will be a very important piece of work," he told Sky News.

Mr Downer, a Liberal, was the nation's longest-serving foreign minister before his appointment to the UK in 2014. Former treasurer Joe Hockey now serves in Washington.

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