New Zealand is talking about an all-out diplomatic assault on Europe and Britain as the country tries to extricate itself from the European Union.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Chief Executive, Brooke Barrington, told Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee that we would need to bready once the British negotiations began — “once the clock starts ticking”, as he put it.

“The last time we had to do something like this in the late 60s and early 70s it was an all of New Zealand effort,” he said.

“It’s a little different this time.

“We don’t put the vast bulk of our trade into the United Kingdom, but nonetheless, we will need to make sure that Ministers and officials and exporters and MPs across the Houser, when they re meeting with their European and UK counterparts are all carrying common messages.”

Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, told the Committee he had just come back from Finland, Latvia and Lithuania.

“We need to have those countries on our agenda much more frequently than has been the case,” he said.

“This is not just a matter for Ministers and senior officials but also for Parliament; Parliament to Parliament; the New Zealand parliament to the European Parliament and to Parliaments across Europe.

“these are the sorts of discussions that we need to start much more actively pursuing over the next few years.

“It’s going to be  reality for us.”


Mr McCully said this approach was not new; for some time Ministers and senior officials had been pursuing a wider variety of relationships across Europe.

“Even if the UK had stayed in the EU the strategy of relying on one big friend in Europe to look after New Zealand’s interests was always going to come unstuck,” he said.

As a consequence of Brexit, he said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was now reviewing its resourcing requirements in Brussels, Berlin, Geneva, London and Wellington.

The inclusion of Geneva because of the presence there of the World Trade Organisation, which may end up playing an important role in determining how New Zealand’s meat and dairy quotas are divided up between Britain and the EU.

New Zealand will have what is called “standing” in any discussions involving the UK and EU and WTO  involving those issues.

The Ministry’s Chief Trade Negotiator, David Walker, said the Ministry was looking across Government to prepare New Zealand for the engage it would need to have with the EU and the UK.

But he said that the Ministry was hopeful that the EU Free Trade Agreement remained on track.

That was currently being scoped, and he hoped it would move to formal negotiations some time next year.

Meanwhile in Auckland yesterday, Prime Minister John Key told a fundraiser for the De Paul Emergency House that Britain was likely to have to agree to Europe’s demands on free movement of people across its border, and to have to ‘pay in’ to Europe from outside the EU tent. 

“I think the world is not going to end because Britain is no longer part of the EU.

But Britain risked being left with ‘all the disadvantages of Europe and none of the advantages.

“Boris [Johnson] or whoever is running the show might say otherwise’, Key said, ‘but their choice is: meet the conditions or don’t export there. That will be some challenge.

“If you look at the countries that are not part of the EU, Norway and Switzerland, they still have free access for people.  

“Norway makes more money from salmon than they make out of oil now.

“But they pay in.

“The European view was likely to stay as ‘choose free movement or you cannot sell to us.’

“If you want to export to Europe you will have to meet their regulations.”

He gave an example from this part of the world: If a New Zealand maker of ‘honey makeup’ wanted to export the product to Australia, it had to meet Australian regulations covering such products, whether ‘you like it or not.’

Key said Britain would no longer be able to influence what is happening in the ‘political project’ which is Europe bringing nations together cooperatively to prevent conflicts of the past.

“If you want my view, you can see why London voted for staying, and 75 percent of young people voted for staying.”

“If you want my view, you can see why London voted for staying, and 75 percent of young people voted for staying.”