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Boris Johnson gives up on Australian-style immigration reform pledge

Published 09/09/2016

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain has a 'fantastic opportunity to reaffirm how important the UK-Australia relationship is'
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain has a 'fantastic opportunity to reaffirm how important the UK-Australia relationship is'

Boris Johnson has abandoned his referendum promise to push for Australian-style immigration reforms.

Prime Minister Theresa May made clear she believed the points system was the wrong move and the Foreign Secretary has fallen into line.

After a meeting between British and Australian ministers in London, Mr Johnson said the "crucial" point was to "take back control".

He said: "The crucial utensil that needs to be applied is, of course, control and you may remember there was a campaign on which the slogan was 'take back control'.

"That was the ambition."

Mr Johnson said a "glutinous harmony" had prevailed between the two countries during the annual Australia-UK ministerial meeting.

Australia is "keen" to do a free trade deal with the UK and the Cabinet minister said he was "very confident" that an outline agreement can be reached.

Australia's prime minister Malcolm Turnbull promised an ''early... very strong, very open'' agreement with Britain after meeting Theresa May last weekend.

But trade minister Steven Ciobo has described his country's historical tie with the UK as ''a relationship of yesteryear" and dampened hopes of a swift deal, insisting formal negotiations could not begin until the UK had finally left the EU.

"I'm very confident that we will be able to at least sketch out, pencil in, the essentials of a very progressive deal that will be good for Australia, good for the UK, good for Europe and good for the world," Mr Johnson said after talks with counterpart Julie Bishop.

The Foreign Secretary said it would be a "fantastic thing" if the UK had a "more sensible system" for dealing with migration between the UK and Australia.

"This is something where I think we can make progress and I'm confident that we will."

Mr Johnson called for the Commonwealth to be "put back in the primacy" of world affairs in the coming years.

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