Australians call for freedom of movement as part of post-Brexit trade deal

Australians call for freedom of movement as part of post-Brexit trade deal

Amy Jones – The Telegraph – Wednesday 19 August 2020

Australian politicians are calling for freedom of movement to be incorporated within any post-Brexit trade deal, hailing it as an opportunity to “create a powerful force for free trade and liberal values”.

 

Senator James Paterson, of the governing Liberal Party, said an agreement should include “generous provisions” for Britons and Australians to live and work in both countries.

In a report for the Adam Smith Institute think tank, Mr Paterson wrote that the two nations are “bound by deep historical and institutional ties” dating back to Sir Arthur Phillip’s arrival in Botany Bay in 1788.

Short of total freedom of movement, Mr Paterson argued that relaxed visa provisions should be put in place to allow citizens of both countries to easily obtain visas when they have job offers.

“This should require minimal regulatory compliance and be simpler to get than the standard work visas in each country,” he said.

In the report, called A Ripper Deal, Mr Paterson, the senator for the state of Victoria, said an arrangement could be a stepping stone to creating a “Canzuk Union” between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

Under such proposals, citizens would be able to live freely between the Commonwealth countries, with economic integration between nations.

“In the long term, a free trade, free movement block consisting of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK is an attractive idea in a dangerous world,” he wrote.

Polling shows significant support for freedom of movement between the four countries across the board. Support is highest in New Zealand, with 82 per cent in favour, while Canada and Australia follow with 76 per cent and 73 per cent support and 68 per cent in the UK back such an arrangement.

Mr Paterson claimed that neither a UK-Australia freedom of movement agreement nor a wider union would “require the UK to sacrifice its newly-reclaimed sovereignty”.

Last year, the International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, said negotiators were “looking at” freedom of movement as part of a trade deal between the UK and Australia, but later rowed back on the claims.

Mr Paterson also argued that a post-Brexit deal with Australia presents an opportunity to provide “cheaper goods for consumers”.

Freed from the EU’s Common External Tariff, the senator predicted “more Australian wine being sold in the UK and more Scotch Whiskey arriving in Australia”.

He also dismisses claims of economic catastrophe after Brexit as “bizarre”, adding: “The UK is not a mere appendage of a much larger geopolitical entity – the facts simply don’t support such a view. Even a cursory look at the UK’s position in the world indicates that Britain’s influence will long outlast the debate over leaving the EU.”

Meanwhile, Brussels on Tuesday warned that a post-Brexit trade deal must be achieved in “October at the latest”.

A spokesman for the EU Commission said the bloc wants an “ambitious and fair partnership with the UK”, but a deal must be achieved by that deadline in order for it to be ratified in time.

He added: “This week and over the coming weeks we will remain constructive, we will remain engaged and respectful with the UK negotiating team in order to reach a deal.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the Government was still confident that a deal could be reached in September.

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