Nothing changes for New Zealanders for now
Nothing changes for New Zealanders for now: British High Commissioner to New Zealand Jonathan Sinclair
British High Commissioner Jonathan Sinclair told TV One’s Q+A programme that New Zealanders currently living in the UK or wanting to travel there can be assured that there will be no changes to current rules for now.
‘Well, as the Prime Minister said, nothing changes. We are a member of the EU, and we remain so for—until it takes for the negotiation to leave, and during that time nothing changes. John Key said very similar things yesterday, that the status of New Zealanders is unchanged in that regard, and we look forward to many New Zealanders come and work and study and be tourists in UK. So in that regard nothing changes at all.’
Jonathan Sinclair told Greg Boyed that he is, ‘personally disappointed. I voted for remain’
Mr Sinclair said, Britain will ‘remain outward-facing and engaged in the world, so while there is, of course, split opinion in Britain and disappointment on one side, we look forward to this with confidence because we can and will remain engaged in the world.’
Mr Sinclair also said it is too soon to say what will happen in terms of immigration and trade.
‘There’s very clear sense that Europe remains the most important export market for Britain. 44% of our exports go to Europe. So as we negotiate our exit from the European Union, we will want to put in place a robust agreement with our partners and friends to ensure that we get the very best possible deal for British goods, services and for the population. So we’ll see this play out over the next two and a half to three years.’
Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE and one hour later on TV ONE plus 1. Repeated Sunday evening at 11:35pm. Streamed live atwww.tvnz.co.nz
Q + A
Interviewed by GREG BOYED
BOYED: Let’s now head to Wellington and the British High Commissioner to New Zealand, Jonathan Sinclair. Jonathan, I suspect a rather different take on it than Shane. Your reaction to the Brexit?
SINCLAIR: Well, personally disappointed. I voted for remain, and the government position was for remain, but the will of the people will be respected. The result is through, and the Prime Minister has been very clear that the referendum will take effect, that Britain will start a negotiation with the European Union, and will do that in a calm and deliberate way, and we will remain outward-facing and engaged in the world, so while there is, of course, split opinion in Britain and disappointment on one side, we look forward to this with confidence because we can and will remain engaged in the world.
BOYED: Having said that, the feeling out of Europe, particularly out of Germany and Brussels also is they want it quicker than two years; they want this to happen very, very shortly. Is that going to be hastened, do you feel?
SINCLAIR: Well, the Prime Minister said on Friday that he was stepping down and that the process to negotiate the departure from the European Union required fresh leadership, and it was for the next Prime Minister to start that process, to exercise what’s called Article 50 of the treaty of the European Union. So I think that the important point here is that this will be a calm and deliberate process, and that once the Conservative Party have elected a new leader and he or she becomes Prime Minister, they will be the one to begin this process.
BOYED: Jonathan, you’ve described this as a leap in the dark, leaving the EU. Do you think a lot of Brits fully understand what next?
SINCLAIR: Well, there was an awful lot of information put out during the campaign. The government released a lot of information, plenty of documents. There was one that expressly said, you know, how you would leave the European Union, so there was a lot of information out there. It’s a little hard from Wellington to tell how much any individual really understood of the issues, but the focus now has to be on what next. And as the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Bank of England said, we just need to take our time, make sure that we take this calmly, and get the very best deal for Britain and for our European friends and partners.
BOYED: Largely, this was about immigration for the people wanting to leave the EU. What assurances can you give to New Zealanders who are now living in Britain?
SINCLAIR: Well, as the Prime Minister said, nothing changes. We are a member of the EU, and we remain so for—until it takes for the negotiation to leave, and during that time nothing changes. John Key said very similar things yesterday, that the status of New Zealanders is unchanged in that regard, and we look forward to many New Zealanders come and work and study and be tourists in UK. So in that regard nothing changes at all.
BOYED: A very divisive campaign. At that absolutely extreme end, of course, we saw the killing of MP Jo Cox, we saw what Nigel Farage had to say, what UKIP had to say. How do you repair those rifts now the decision’s made?
SINCLAIR: Well, you’ve seen leaders on all sides come forward and now say, ‘This now is the time to try and come together.’ Certainly, leading figures in the government party have said that, and that’s very much the sentiment across the country. Yes, it has been a very robust debate, but it’s time now to come together and work to deliver the best possible deal for Britain and for all Britons regardless of how they voted in the referendum.
BOYED: Okay, David Cameron has said that he’ll be gone by October. Is Boris Johnson the next British Prime Minister?
SINCLAIR: We’ll have to wait and see. I think the Conservative party is setting out its rules over the next week or so. That will be the guidelines by which individual Conservative Members of Parliament may or may not throw their hat in the ring, and the Prime Minister has said that he hopes to see a new leader in place by early October.
BOYED: Do you have—I’m sure I know how you’re going to answer this. Do you have any preference to who you’d like to see in the top job?
SINCLAIR: You’re quite right. I don’t have a preference. That’s not for me to say. It’s for the membership of the Conservative party. They’ll do that over the next few weeks and months.
BOYED: Okay, I want to go back to the jobs just briefly. A lot of this was about immigration and jobs for Brits. Can you see that really changing that as much as a lot—well, 52% of Brits, are hoping it will change?
SINCLAIR: It may be a bit of a stuck record, but it is a bit too soon to say. There’s very clear sense that Europe remains the most important export market for Britain. 44% of our exports go to Europe. So as we negotiate our exit from the European Union, we will want to put in place a robust agreement with our partners and friends to ensure that we get the very best possible deal for British goods, services and for the population. So we’ll see this play out over the next two and a half to three years.
BOYED: Having said that, you’ve got to say that you’ve said, ‘We don’t want to be part of your union, but we want to keep these deals happening; we want to keep that relationship open.’ How likely do you think that is going to happen with your trading partners?
SINCLAIR: Well, someone like Chancellor Merkel, who is one of the most important leaders in the world and Europe, has said that this needs to be done carefully and calmly. I think it’s very much in the interests of all members of the European Union – ourselves and our partners – to make sure that this is the best possible deal. Europe itself is looking to bring in greater economic reform and to boost its economic growth, and it will want to ensure that it has the best possible deal for themselves and for Britain, because in the end economic growth is what’s behind, and what will be behind, bringing prosperity to Europe.
BOYED: You personally, going back to Britain- when you do go back to Britain, how different of a country, how different of a scenario are you expecting to encounter when you do return there?
SINCLAIR: I don’t know. Obviously in the very immediate aftermath of the debate, emotions are raw, and that’s understandable. I think that’s why it’s really important for things just to settle down, and for everyone to realise that actually today we are still a member of the EU. Now, how those emotions will settle remains to be seen, but we are a resilient country; we are a resilient people – open, outward-facing and we like to be engaged in the world – and those sentiments won’t change.
BOYED: What about the contagion talk we’re hearing – Frexit, Czechit, I-exit – doesn’t really make any sense – all the other countries that are talking about doing the same thing. How likely is that to happen over the months to come?
SINCLAIR: I think that sort of question you’d really have to put to the leaders of those countries. I think what is clear is that leaders across Europe are determined to try to bring in the sort of reforms that require- that are required to bring prosperity to Europe, and, yes, we have seen popular votes across- or popular parties across Europe spring up, and that’s in response to some of the economic turmoil that’s happened over the last few years. So I think what most leaders will want to do is bring calm, continue along the economic reform path, because only through growth and jobs can some of this populism really be addressed.
BOYED: It has divided a union, though. Whichever way you cut it, this has divided up a union. We’ve seen the reaction of Vladimir Putin. How much of a security concern is that?
SINCLAIR: Well, concerns about Russia are separate, really, from the European Union. Their invasion and annexation of Crimea two years ago was one of the greatest threats to stability in Europe over the last recent times. And that’s completely separate to the referendum. You’ve seen European Union leaders come together and enact sanctions against Russia for that act. So I think we need to probably separate these two issues, and deal with Russia in its own way.
BOYED: All right, British High Commissioner Jonathan Sinclair, thank you so much for your time.