Prime Minister John Key has flown to Europe, where he will meet with various European political and economic leaders. After a couple of tumultuous weeks in which we have seen Britain vote to leave the European Union, the leadership of Britains two main parties get plunged into uncertainty and both the Euro and the British Pound cop thumpings on the exchange rate, Mr Key will be keen to talk about the future. But what should his priorities in Europe be?
This is an interesting question as Mr Key was one of the New Zealand politicians who supported Britain remaining in the European Union. His thinking was that at least with the European Union, even if we do not entirely like – and we don’t – their stance on trade with New Zealand we know where we stand. This was in contrast with leaders such New Zealand First leader Winston Peters who was in favour of Brexit because it meant that among other things Britain and New Zealand would be able to negotiate individual trade deals with other countries.
But now that Britain has voted Brexit, Mr Key needs to change his priorities to allow for the magnitude 8.0+ earthquake that happened in European Union and British politics on 23 June 2016. So, what should his new priorities be?
Granted Britain will not know who the new Prime Minister to replace David Cameron is until September, for the time being, establishing meaningful contact with the senior leadership of the Conservative Party and the British Labour Party should be a first priority. Although there has not been a leadership change in the British Labour Party, its leader Jeremy Corbyn needs to know and understand what New Zealand thinks and why. It is also an ideal chance to find out what timetables are starting to emerge for Brexit’s occurrence and whether there will be any ramifications for New Zealand. Whilst there he could also ask why Britain is funding and arming Saudi Arabia whilst knowing it is committing war crimes in Yemen.
But Britain is just one country Mr Key is visiting. He is also going to Italy to meet Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and France to meet President Francois Hollande, and his Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Although it appears his priorities in an economic sense might be correct, this would be a chance for him discuss the ongoing refugee crisis, the human rights issues associated with it.