06 Jun

'Scott Morrison hands gift to Queen as he visits Brexit-battered UK' by Emma Reynolds, news.com.au

Scott Morrison handed the Queen a quirky present as he and wife Jenny met the monarch and Prince Charles in London.

The Prime Minister gave Her Majesty a signed book on Winx by Andrew Rule during their meeting at Buckingham Palace, bowing as his spouse curtsied.

The Queen, who loves horses, looked pleased as she accepted the gift, which was presented to her in a tartan bag.

“Very nice to see you,” she told the couple, as Mr Morrison said he had just come from the Solomon Islands.

The couple also met Prince Charles at Clarence House, with the prince telling the PM: “You must be incredibly jetlagged.”

Mr Morrison replied: “It’s easier this way, it’s much harder going home.”

The Prime Minister earlier promised major benefits for Australians after Brexit, as he joined Donald Trump in a troubled UK. Mr Morrison said a working group had already been put in place to make plans for if or when the nation leaves the European Union.

He said the UK was Australia’s second largest source of overall foreign investment— an estimated at $575 billion at the end of 2018 — and stressed that “the approach of Brexit hasn’t taken the shine off Australia’s confidence in the UK”.

“We already have a working group in place looking at the parameters of a free trade negotiation once Brexit happens,” said Mr Morrison in a speech to an Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce lunch at London’s Savoy Hotel on Tuesday afternoon local time.

 

“We want to launch negotiations on an FTA (free-trade agreement) with the UK as soon as possible post-Brexit, recognising that the shape and nature of Brexit will affect the timing and nature of future negotiations.

“But whatever transpires, Australia will be an active partner, loyal friend and determined advocate of a post-Brexit Britain.”

He warned of the dangers of a “zero-sum mindset” in international relations, as he highlighted tensions over Brexit, and between the US and China.

The PM and wife Jenny flew into Farnborough Airport on Tuesday morning for the business lunch, which will be followed by a trip to Portsmouth for D-Day commemoration events on Wednesday, along with Mr Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and other world leaders.

The Morrisons met Prince Charles and the Prime Minister is also set to hold talks with Mrs May to discuss the future relationship between the two countries.

He will have an opportunity to speak to Mr Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Portsmouth.

He said he shared “the ambition of the UK Government to build a stronger global partnership — in trade and investment, in protecting our security interests, and in supporting global rules and institutions that create the foundationsfor stability.”

Mr Morrison said the defence industry relationship was another area of growing opportunity for both countries, which were working together on “global security challenges”.

On a day of huge anti-Trump protests in London, he added: “British businesses invest in Australia because they know it’s a stable, growing, well-regulated economy with plenty of opportunity still to come.”

The Prime Minister’s maiden voyage to the UK will be somewhat overshadowed by the pomp, ceremony and controversy surrounding the outspoken Mr Trump and the leadership battle to replace Mrs May, who steps down on Friday.

Mr Morrison is due to meet British economic and security officials in London on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, Mr Morrison will represent Australia at the 75th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings, hosted by the Queen alongside more than 300 World War II veterans.

He is hoping to build support for his proposed G20 initiative to stop terrorists exploiting social media, along with discussing Iran, Syria, the global economy and world trade.

On Monday, Mr Morrison became the first Australian leader since 2008 to visit the Solomon Islands. In Honiara, the PM announced funding to give Solomon Islanders an easier path to get work in Australia, and an infrastructure program worth up to $250 million in grant financing over 10 years.

Mr Morrison stressed Australia’s relationship with the Pacific nation should not be seen in relation to the rivalry between China and the United States in the region.

Later this week, Mr Morrison will join his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong for the annual leaders meeting, joined by Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham.

At a lunch with 400 businesspeople, Mr Morrison plans to highlight Australia’s commitment to deepening economic and security ties with Southeast Asia.

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