Boris Johnson pushes Australian freedom of movement deal

Boris Johnson pushes Australian freedom of movement deal

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said the UK, by allowing UK visa-free entry to Europeans, has 'betrayed' Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Johnson, currently holidaying in Australia, wrote a strongly worded article in The Daily Telegraph after receiving a letter from Australian teacher Sally Rocroft, who was forced to move back to Australia after being unable to obtain a UK visa.

The London mayor, known for his eccentric turn of phrase, said Ms Rocroft had effectively 'been told to bog off by the authorities in our country because it was, they said, too much of a palaver to go through the business of “sponsoring” her to stay'.

Mr Johnson continued that the UK's relationship with the EU was made at the expense of Australians and other Commonwealth nations who had strong historical ties with the UK. Passport holders of any of the European Union's 27 member states can live and work in the UK on a permanent basis; Australian citizens are required to obtain and renew a UK visa to remain in the UK.

'We betrayed our relationships with Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand, and entered into preferential trading arrangements with what was then the European Economic Community.'

The issue of the UK's membership in the EU has been a contentious topic in recent months with Prime Minister David Cameron promising to hold an in-out referendum if he could not secure a renegotiation of the UK's participation.

While that debate rages on, Mr Johnson's solution is to introduce a 'bilateral Free Labour Mobility Zone' between the UK and Australia to capitalise on the economic growth in the Pacific region while the European economy continues to struggle.

'We need to raise our eyes beyond Europe, forging and intensifying links with countries that are going to be growing in the decades ahead – countries that offer immense opportunities for British goods, people, services and capital,' wrote the mayor.

'And you could not do better than by starting with Australia.'

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.