Australia

As British MPs prepare for crucial Brexit vote, Australia is watching ‘very closely’

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says the government is closely monitoring the Brexit vote for the Australian implications.

As the UK parliament prepares to vote on a deal that would see Britain leave the European Union at the end of this month, Australia remains ready to pounce to try and secure a free trade agreement.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured a deal with his European counterparts this week, but it still has to be approved at a special parliamentary sitting on Saturday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with EU leaders during a Brexit summit in Brussels, 17 October 2019.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with EU leaders during a Brexit summit in Brussels, 17 October 2019.
AAP

At this stage, Britain will leave the EU on 31 October with or without a Brexit deal.

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the government is watching events in the UK "very closely".

"In the end and we have done all the preparatory work to ensure Australia is as best placed for any scenario in relation to Brexit," Senator Birmingham said heading into the Liberal Party's Federal Council meeting in Canberra on Saturday.

"If a deal is struck and followed through with the parliament in Westminister then we will of course continue our negotiations with the EU and UK."

However, if there is no orderly deal and the UK leaves on 31 October, then Australia will try and hasten the trade negotiations, he said.

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Dateline S2019 Ep21 - Brexit: When The Immigrants Leave
Dateline S2019 Ep21 - Brexit: When The Immigrants Leave

British MPs hold historic vote

Boris Johnson on Saturday warned against further delay to Britain's departure from the European Union, telling politicians there was "little appetite" for another extension.

He told parliament that "further delay is pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive to public trust", as MPs sat on a weekend for the first time in 37 years to debate his divorce agreement.

The vote is widely seen as too close to call but Mr Johnson warned his deal was still the best way out of the tortuous Brexit process that has left Britain in political turmoil since 2016.

"There is no better outcome than the one I'm advocating," he told the BBC on Friday evening, calling it a "fantastic deal for all of the UK".

Securing a deal was a personal victory for Mr Johnson, a "Vote Leave" leader in the referendum campaign who has vowed to deliver Brexit on 31 October in all circumstances.

But parliament - like the frustrated public - is still divided over how and even if Britain should end 46 years of integration with its closest neighbours.

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