New Zealand has complained about the lack of progress in trade talks with the UK, claiming the Government was not “match fit” for the negotiations.
Winston Peters, New Zealand’s deputy prime minister, said he was “very frustrated” with the progress made on a post-Brexit deal, arguing the long-time membership of the EU meant the UK was not ready to engage properly in negotiations once it was able to pursue independent agreements.
“We’ve had to look offshore for a long time and so we are seriously match fit when it comes to that, in a way that I don’t believe that the UK is, because the UK has been locked up in the EU all these years,” he said.
“They’ve never had a test, so to speak. It’s like coming into an Ashes contest when you haven’t played for 30 years – it’s the same thing in the UK when it comes to this.”
He suggested that Theresa May’s government had allowed “inertia” to set in while focused on Brexit.
“Where you have a decision to leave the EU and you don’t have leading the exiting party, a prime minister committed to the departure it’s somewhat predictable that inertia would set in. And that’s what we’ve been witnessing from our part of the world until Boris (Johnson) turned up.”
A second round of trade talks with New Zealand is planned for October after initial negotiations in July.