UK foreign secretary to visit Kenya in push for post-Brexit trade links
Tuesday, April 30, 2019 10:36
By PAUL REDFERN
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will make his first visit to Kenya on Friday.
He will be in the country as part of a five-nation five-day tour of Africa designed to push post-Brexit trade links with sub-Saharan Africa in the event that the UK does actually leave the European Union.
Hunt, a former Secretary of State for Health and a leadership candidate for the ruling Conservative party in the UK, was formerly in favour of Britain remaining in the EU but is now a committed Brexiteer.
With his party floundering in the polls and expected to take a hammering in both the local municipal elections in the UK tomorrow (Thursday) and the EU elections on May 23, due to the increasing Brexit divide in the country, the Tories have been working on trying to establish new trade deals with Africa following Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit last year.
Mr Hunt said: “Africa is a continent growing at an extraordinary rate, full of transformative potential.
“In a future where Britain is no longer a member of the EU, I want us to work within and alongside African nations to make sure, together, we combat the threats we all face, and capitalise on the opportunities open to people wherever they live.
“To do this, I want to set out the stall for the UK to be the new partner of choice across Africa.”
The UK’s aim is try to convince African countries that Brexit will bring trade benefits outside of the existing trade with the EU.
The problem for Hunt and his Conservative colleagues is Brexit is at an impasse in the UK with his party totally divided over what action to take next.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposal to enable the UK to leave the EU with a deal has already been heavily defeated three times.
But in the unlikely event that a Brexit agreement is made, the UK government is looking to boost trade with Africa which is why Hunt is visiting Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya, which have five of the fastest-growing economies on the continent.
Apart from pushing post-Brexit trade links, Hunt is expected to highlight aspects of his personal Foreign Office (FCO) agenda, including highlighting the persecution of Christians, developing media freedom as a bulwark for nascent democracies and the link between climate change and threats to security, including mass migration.
With the UK set to leave the European Union, Mr Hunt said he wanted to work “within and alongside” African nations to tackle international threats and forge new opportunities.
However, there has been criticism that the UK government has been so distracted by Brexit that its perceived interest in Africa has been hyped to deal with a domestic political crisis.
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