Australia warns it will not go into ‘full negotiating mode’ with UK after Brexit

Liz Truss in Sydney. Photograph: Twitter.

Liz Truss in Sydney. Photograph: Twitter. - Credit: Archant

Australia's trade minister has poured cold water on a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK, warning that it cannot include visa-free travel.

Simon Birmingham said he "can't imagine full and unfettered free movement" during negotiations over trade talks.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald: "We're not into full negotiating mode and we will have to see what the UK aspires to.

"But noting that work rights and movement of people in the UK has been a big part of the European Union debate, I would be surprised if complete liberalisation around migration and labour rights was on their agenda."

But he did add there could be "more flexibility" to existing immigration rules.

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"How you draw the line around rights to access work visas and other visas is a different question, that has an entire spectrum of grey, between the black and white of no movement and unfettered movement".

In September the international trade secretary Liz Truss announced that a plan to allow British citizens to live and work in Australia could happen very soon.

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She said: "We've been clear on the fact we want to adopt the Australian-based points system in terms of our new immigration system as we leave the European Union... our two countries have a special link and a historic relationship, and it's certainly something that we will be looking at as part of our free-trade negotiations."

Ministers from New Zealand expressed similar concerns that such deals could lead to an influx of unskilled British workers similar to the early 2000s.

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