Johnson backs Tier 2 visa reforms for Australians

Boris Johnson plans to renegotiate the current Tier 2 system in order to enable more Australians to live and work in Britain.

Australia UK Visa changes to negotiate Boris Johnson
The prospect of Australians enjoying a relaxed, post-Brexit visa system to work and study in the UK has been held out by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.Mr Johnson promised to champion the issue in "positive and constructive" talks in London with Julie Bishop, Australia's foreign minister.The Tier 2 visa system, which controls the entry of non-EU citizens to the UK, has long been criticised by Australian politicians and has led to a dramatic fall in the number of Australians coming to the country over the past decade.Last month, Alexander Downer, Australian high commissioner in London, suggested the UK's vote to leave the European Union represented an opportunity to renegotiate the Tier 2 system to "enable more Aussies to live and work" in Britain. As reported at the time by, he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, "As a representative of the Australian government in the UK, my job is to seek opportunities amid the Brexit fallout. While the implications of the break-up for Australia remain to be seen, I pledge to seize on the transition as an opportunity to address restrictions on working visas."Right now, numerous restrictions exist preventing many Australians from living and working in the UK. Whether there'll be opportunities to change that when the Brexit arrangements come into place, we simply don't know. But we should try in any case, and that's what we'll do."  After her meeting with Mr Johnson, Ms Bishop said, “I believe he is a great friend of Australia. He has a particular attachment to our country; he has lived in Australia and that augers well for a strong bilateral relationship.“He is very good company but also takes this [Australia–UK] relationship very seriously and it is to Australia’s benefit to have someone of the calibre of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary of the UK.“We had a very positive and constructive discussion about the opportunity to see more young Australians living and working in London, and likewise for more young Britons to come to Australia under various visas.“There was a very positive discussion about it. Boris Johnson related stories about his time as a young man in Australia, and he hoped those opportunities for young Australians and young Britons will continue.” 

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Mr Johnson also raised the possibility of a post-Brexit, free trade deal between the UK and Australia – something Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, expressed his support for at the weekend when he said an "early, very strong, very open" agreement was on the cards. However, some confusion was thrown into the debate a few days later when Trade Minister Steven Ciobo described his country's historical tie with the UK as ''a relationship of yesteryear" and said his government's priority was to complete a trade deal with the EU in talks next year.Before yesterday's meeting, Mr Johnson said, "Australia is a long-standing and true friend of the UK, and I look forward to productive talks on how we tackle some of the challenges facing both of our great nations."This is a fantastic opportunity to reaffirm how important the UK–Australia relationship is to us and to celebrate our shared history, values and the strong links between our people."Mr Johnson's love of all things Australian earned him the 2014 Honorary Australian of the Year title, awarded by the high commission in London. In his column in the Daily Telegraph, he had written about the "bizarre" restrictions on Australians coming to the UK, and argued that Britain and Australia were more closely connected, culturally and emotionally, than any other countries.He said of the current Tier 2 system, “It just seems so peculiar to me. We fought together in two world wars. There’s huge cultural affinities, ties of blood relations, God knows what. I just think it’s bizarre. It has not been a great policy, in my view.”

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