EU IN: After Obama, It’s Turnbull

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivers a speech at the Shanghai Expo Center in Shanghai, east China
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Leave campaign Commonwealth argument on the rocks as Australian Prime Minister  Malcolm Turnbull backs Britain’s EU membership
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivers a speech at the Shanghai Expo Center in Shanghai, east China
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivers a speech at the Shanghai Expo Center in Shanghai, east China

The Leave campaign’s Commonwealth argument has been dealt a fresh hammer blow with Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia, becoming the latest Commonwealth leader to back Britain’s membership of the EU.

He said in an interview that “having Britain as part of the EU is definitely an advantage” for Australia. Turnbull’s comments follow the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, endorsing Britain’s EU membership just last month.

The UK’s most important international partners – including the USA, Australia and New Zealand – agree Britain is stronger in Europe.

Speaking to Sky News Australia, Malcolm Turnbull said:

“From our point of view, from Australia’s point of view, having Britain as part of the EU is definitely an advantage. If the British people in their wisdom decide to stay in the European Union then we would welcome that.

“Britain’s involvement in the European Union does provide us – and Australian firms particularly, many of whom are based in the UK – does provide us with considerable access to that market so from our point of view, from a trade and economic point of view, it is a plus. And of course we have very similar views on so many issues, so many strategic issues, we are very close allies, Britain is part of the Five Eyes group or alliance in terms of intelligence so from our point of view it is an unalloyed plus for Britain to remain in the EU.”

Commenting, Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said:

“Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s comments, just weeks after New Zealand Prime Minister John Key expressed similar views, underline the simple fact that our Commonwealth partners see Britain as being stronger and more influential as a member of the EU.

“The Leave campaign peddles the myth that Britain has to choose between our Commonwealth friends and our EU partners. But I believe that we can be influential and successful members of both the EU and the Commonwealth, and that is precisely what Australia and New Zealand are urging us to do.

“Both leaders are clear that the vote is a matter for the British people but it would be dangerous and arrogant to dismiss out of hand the concerns and feelings of some of our closest and oldest allies – partners with whom we share so much history and heritage, and with whom we work so closely on trade, defence and security.”