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

PUBLISHED: 11:33 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:33 07 January 2020

Liz Truss in Sydney. Photograph: Twitter.

Liz Truss in Sydney. Photograph: Twitter.

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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.

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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.

"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.

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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