Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Claire Trevett: Bill of fare forgettable

Prime Minister Bill English. Photo / Marty Melville
Prime Minister Bill English. Photo / Marty Melville

After his 90 minute lunch meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, all Prime Minister Bill English could remember eating at 10 Downing Street was mashed spud and "some green stuff."

One thing that can be certain is it was not New Zealand lamb.

New Zealand lamb has been a bone of controversy in the United Kingdom, partly because it often undercuts locally grown lamb.

So English came away from the wood panelled walls with a doggy bag which included Theresa May's agreement to push on with a free trade agreement as soon as the UK had left Brexit.

It was good news for English, although he expected agriculture would be a sticking point in those trade talks.

English did May a favour in return, praising May's "clarity" of thinking around the Brexit process.

May has come under fire for failing to spell out how Brexit will happen and is due to deliver a major speech on Tuesday.

English said she was "engaging, a very determined woman and a clear thinker" - and that she had left him with the impression she was just the person needed to get the UK through Brexit intact.

Imported New Zealand lamb is not the only problem in the New Zealand-UK relationship.
Imported New Zealanders are also problematic - but English was apparently more willing to put that on the backburner than he was the lamb.

He told media after his meeting that there was little point in pushing the issue of access to the UK for New Zealanders at a time when it was focused on the EU - and the root of all its woes was migration from within the EU.

In terms of timing, English's visit could not have been better. There was the confluence of Brexit and Trump. There was some interest from British media in English's visit in Europe, although it was predominantly in case May let something slip about her Brexit plan in advance of her looming speech next Tuesday on her plans for Brexit.

English attracted some high level attention - including interviews with the BBC, the Financial Times and CNN's Richard Quest, who flew in from New York for the occasion.

As for that lunch, 10 Downing Street later confirmed the menu was a starter of Laverstoke Park mozzarella with clementine and almond crumble, a main of pan-fried brill (rhymes with Bill) with vegetables and chocolate fondant for pudding.

- NZ Herald

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Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor and joined the Press Gallery in 2007. She began with the Herald in 2003 as the Northland reporter before moving to Auckland where her rounds included education and media. A graduate of AUT's post-graduate diploma in journalism, Claire began her journalism career in 2002 at the Northern Advocate in Whangarei. Claire has conjoint Bachelor of Law/ Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Canterbury.

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