Oz High Commissioner calls on UK to relax immigration rules

The Australian High Commissioner to the UK has called on the British government to relax immigration controls for Australian citizens as part of any new trade agreement.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme over the weekend, Alexander Downer said that Australia would seek “greater access” for businesspeople before reaching a post-Brexit trade agreement with the UK.

Downer, a former Australian Liberal Party politician also suggested that the UK should establish an “easier” system for Australian workers to obtain visas.

The High Commissioner said: “We would want to see greater access for Australian businesspeople working in the UK and that’s often been a part of free-trade negotiations – it hasn’t always been by the way, but it’s often been part of our free-trade negotiations.

“It might just make it a bit simpler actually. For example, an Australian company that invests in the UK might want to bring some of its executives to the UK. That can be done now with what are called tier two visas, but maybe that could be made a little bit easier.”

With the UK gearing up to leave the European Union in the near future, it is believed that the country will be seeking new trade deals with other nations as it becomes less reliant on its current major trading partner.

British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed last week that Britain would not remain a full member of the EU customs union after Brexit, saying the UK wanted to negotiate its own trade deals with the rest of the world.

The High Commissioner added that talks had already taken place at a ministerial level between the two countries to “explore the scope” of a prospective free-trade agreement, but added that nothing could be negotiated until the UK formally leaves the European Union.

“We have had discussions with them at all sorts of different levels, including ministerial level, and we have set up a working group to explore the scope of what a free-trade agreement might look like,” Downer said.

Article published 23rd January 2017