Australia's High Commissioner in London on February 12 reiterated his calls for Britain to unilaterally liberalize its trade regime in order to boost its ties with its Oceanic cousin.
Speaking to BBC4 Radio, the former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer lent his support to those advocating a full break from European institutions such as the Customs Union and the Single Market, warning that Britain will "lose control" of its trade policies and deprive itself of the freedom to strike independent commercial agreements with other parts of the world.
Australian High Commissioner, Alexander Downer: "If you remain in the customs union then you would have no control over an independent trade policy." https://t.co/IzXzVTTwhy— Leave Means Leave (@LeaveMnsLeave) February 12, 2018
As a former colony, Australia and Great Britain had extremely close relations until the UK's accession to the European Economic Community, which became the European Union in 1993. Thereafter Australia and its other former British colonial cousin New Zealand sought to cultivate closer political and economic ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and with the United States.
The calls from Australian officials come on top of Prime Minister Theresa May's recent visit to China to push for more intensive trading relations after the UK's exit from the European Union. Proponents of a so-called "Global Britain" have even floated the possibility of the UK joining the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from which the United States has withdrawn under president Donald Trump.
Doubts have been raised however as to the feasibility of Britain being able to significantly shift its trading emphasis away from Europe towards more far flung corners of its former imperial dominions.