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Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull wants post-Brexit UK trade deal - after reaching one with EU

2 min read

Australia's Prime Minister has said his government wants to strike a trade deal with the UK "as quickly as possible" after Brexit - but not until after they have reached a similar agreement with the EU.

Malcolm Turnbull said he wanted to "move quickly" as soon as Britain is able to legally enter talks with other countries.

Speaking in Downing Street, he said: "Australians are fleet of foot. We don't muck around, we are very simple. So we move as quickly as the UK will move and we will move as soon as Britain is lawfully able to enter into a free trade agreement. But we are very keen.

"We are working fast and hard to get a free trade agreement with the EU, and ideally ... we'd like to get that done before Britain leaves the EU. 

"I just want to be very clear about this. We are absolutely signed up for free trade, open markets, it has been the key to our continued run of economic success."

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, a leading supporter of the pro-European Open Britain group, said: "A free trade deal with Australia would be good news, but with it accounting for just 1.4% of our exports, it is a drop in the ocean compared to the EU market on our doorstep which accounts for half our trade.

"As keen as Malcolm Turnbull is on a deal with the UK, he actually wants one with the EU first and before the UK leaves. So we are behind the EU in the queue for a deal with even our Antipodean allies.

"This demonstrates the foolishness of betting the house on trade deals which may not happen for years, when the Government is committed to quickly pulling us out of the single market and the customs union, a combination of which gives us free trade across the European Union and trade deals with over fifty other countries."

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