Lib Dem Danny Alexander May Get U.K. Nod for China Bank Role

  • Danny Alexander lost parliamentary seat in May's election
  • U.K. weighing nominating him to AIIB development bank's board

Danny Alexander.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Danny Alexander, the former U.K. Chief Secretary to the Treasury who lost his job and his parliamentary seat in May’s general election, is in the running to join China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, according to two people familiar with the appointment process.

The British government is considering putting forward Alexander, 43, for one of a small number of non-Asian seats on the development bank’s board, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the deliberations are still under way.

An appointment to the Beijing-based institution would be a further reward for Alexander, a Liberal Democrat who worked closely with Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in the coalition government that ran Britain from 2010 until 2015. He received a knighthood in August, three months after losing his Highland electoral district in the tidal wave of Scottish National Party victories. Osborne told the New Statesman news magazine last month that he had “a lot of time and respect for Danny.”

The Treasury in London declined to comment on the nomination when contacted by telephone on Thursday. Alexander didn’t respond to an e-mail sent to his private account.

Britain in March became the first major western country to announce it would join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB, drawing flak from the U.S. at the time and praise from Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to the U.K. this week. While frequently compared to the World Bank, Jin Liqun, the AIIB’s president-designate, said on Wednesday that it wasn’t a rival to the Washington-based institution. The AIIB is expected to be operational by the end of the year, according to its website.

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Photo illustration: 731; Photographer: Alamy (2)

“The TPP and the AIIB are symbols of an historic battle: the contest between the U.S. and China for control of the trade and finance that form the foundation of today’s global economy.” // Michael Schumann, Bloomberg BusinessWeek

The AIIB “will be of enormous benefit to the region as well as opening up more opportunities for British business,” Prime Minister David Cameron said at a joint press briefing with Xi in London on Wednesday.

Electoral Downfall

Osborne, who is at the forefront of pushing for closer ties with the world’s second-largest economy, has identified strengthening Britain’s relationship with China as one of the core goals of his chancellorship. He has repeatedly dismissed concerns that such a move would expose Britain to more risk following the recent market turmoil sparked by a slowdown in China’s economy, telling reporters at an International Monetary Fund conference in Lima earlier this month that China was “still an enormous contributor to global growth.”

In September, Osborne led a delegation of U.K. ministers and business leaders on a week-long trip to China, saying that “regardless of the challenges, we shouldn’t be running away” from forging alliances with the country.

Alexander, the second-highest ranking Liberal Democrat after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in Cameron’s 2010 coalition government, has kept a low profile since losing the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey district he represented for a decade. His electoral downfall at the hands of the SNP came nine months after he helped Cameron’s government to secure a “No” vote to Scottish independence in last year’s referendum.

— With assistance by Thomas Penny, and Nick Wadhams

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