Brexit New Zealand

We finally have some coverage here in New Zealand of the forthcoming EU referendum in the UK, courtesy of a Brexit special supplement in the Sunday Star Times newspaper. It contains many predictable comments from reliable sources. The CEO of the NZ German Business Association saying New Zealand businesses might have to make more use of other countries (ie Germany) as their entry route into the EU. The British High Commissioner says “the choice is between economic security and global influence on one hand, and ‘a leap in the dark’ on the other”.

However, there were some other, tantalising glimpses. The only fact in the entire piece was that 90% of New Zealand exports went to the UK in 1930. Today that figure is 2½%, and presumably a [sizeable?] chunk of that is actually destined for re-export to the EU. NZ First leader, Winston Peters, sees Brexit as a chance to “heal a rift going back to 1973”, especially as far as visas go since the UK joined the “Single Market”.

Shane Firth, Kiwi expat in the UK and part of the Vote Leave campaign says “We have a shared culture and language but we are in the foreigners’ queue”. New Zealand certainly feels like one country where a vote to leave the EU would allow a much closer relationship with the UK at every level. 

Coming to New Zealand, I have been struck by how young and energetic this country is. By “young”, I literally mean the age of the population, compared to the UK. “Remain” offers a chance to continue down the integrationist path with “old” Europe. “Leave” offers us a chance to forge a relationship with “old” Europe based on a free trade version of what we have now, plus the chance to engage with vibrant economies around the world.