New Zealanders will still be welcome in the UK on working holidays after Brexit, says Britain's International Trade Secretary who's here trying to secure a free trade deal.
There has been speculation the scheme allowing young people from several Commonwealth countries to live and work in the UK for two years will change when Britain leaves the European Union, and Brexit is viewed by some as anti-immigration.
But in an interview for TVNZ1's Q+A, Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary in Boris Johnson's Cabinet, said New Zealanders will "absolutely" still be welcome on working holidays.
And she said it's completely wrong to think Brexit is anti-immigration.
"What it is against is free movement of people, which means that there is an unlimited flow between the UK and the rest of Europe," Ms Truss said.
"What we do want to do is encourage people with the right skills, the right talents to come to the UK," she said.
Ms Truss said the UK Government has recently announced overseas students will be able to stay longer in the UK and work there for a limited period after their course.
"So what we want to do is of course continue to offer visas to New Zealanders but also look at how we bring the brightest and best into Britain and be able to use their talents," she said.
That does not mean the rules will be tightened for New Zealanders wanting to take a working holiday, Ms Truss said.
"What it means is we are looking at the world as a whole in terms of which skills we need in Britain, which opportunities there are in Britain. But we already have a very strong working relationship with New Zealand, we already have specific arrangements with New Zealand. Those will remain."
Asked when New Zealand can expect a Free Trade Agreement with Britain, presuming Brexit goes ahead at the end of October, Ms Truss said, "It depends how good the offer is from New Zealand".
She said she got "an incredibly positive response" today from the ministers she met in Wellington.
"We want to progress, we're in agreement about the types of area we need to cover in a Free Trade Agreement."
Ms Truss said New Zealand is one of the first trade deals she wants to sign as trade secretary, “and provided we can come to reasonable terms I hope it will be very, very rapid”.
Some observers in the UK say rolling out a raft of new trade deals may not be as easy as the British Government hopes, with some countries reluctant to sign while the final shape of Brexit is unclear.
If Britain leaves the EU without a deal, the UK will lose tariff-free access to a number of markets and would have to trade under World Trade Organisation rules.
* Q+A is on TVNZ1 on Mondays at 9.30pm, and the episode is then available on TVNZ OnDemand and as a podcast in all the usual places.