Tory government 'looking at' granting Australians freedom of movement denied to EU citizens after Brexit, cabinet minister Liz Truss says

Liz Truss says she wants 'fully comprehensive trade deal' reflecting the fact that Britons and Australians want to live and work in each others' countries

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Wednesday 18 September 2019 12:17
International trade secretary Liz Truss says Australian citizens could get freedom of movement rights

Australian citizens could get freedom of movement rights denied to EU nationals after Brexit, international trade secretary Liz Truss has suggested.

Speaking during a visit to Canberra, Ms Truss said that the relaxation of visa requirements for Australian nationals wanting to live and work in the UK would “certainly” be looked at as part of negotiations on a new trade deal.

Home secretary Priti Patel was forced to back away from plans to end EU citizens’ rights to settle and work in the UK immediately if a no-deal Brexit goes ahead on 31 October.

But EU nationals resident in the UK are being told to apply for settled status by the end of 2020 in order to be able to remain without a visa.

At a press conference with Australian trade minister Simon Birmingham, Ms Truss was asked by reporters about a possible freedom of movement proposal which would relax current requirements for Australian nationals.

She replied: "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. We've recently made an announcement that we’re extending the work period after foreign students come to the UK for two years.

"But of course, 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."

Ms Truss said: “We want a fully comprehensive trade deal that reflects our deep, ongoing relationship, the friendship between our two countries, the fact that Australians want to come and live and work in Britain, and Brits want to come and live and work in Australia.

“Leaving the European Union really does give us a chance as a country to become more outward-looking, to become more competitive, and to deepen our links with our partners right across the world.

“The reason that I’ve chosen to make Australia one of the first countries I’ve visited as trade secretary is this is an absolute priority for me to get on with this trade deal.”

The Department for International Trade said that migration arrangements routinely form part of negotiations on free trade deals, but that no proposals have yet been formally put forward for the future UK-Australia relationship.

A working group established by the UK and Australian governments has held four meetings to pave the way for formal trade negotiations, which cannot begin until Britain has left the EU.

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