Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signed a deal with Britain’s PM to let more Kiwis travel and work in the United Kingdom.
Ardern is in London – the last stop in her tour of Europe – where she plans to meet Prince William after her appointment with Boris Johnson at 10 Downing St.
The meeting gave the leaders a chance to formalise an extension to the Youth Mobility Scheme, as well as discuss the UK-NZ free trade deal and the war in Ukraine.
By 2024, the age limit for people to be eligible for the scheme will increase from 30 to 35 years old. The visa length will also extend from two to three years.
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Currently, the scheme allows New Zealanders between 18 and 30 years old to live and work in the UK for 2 years.
On the other side, it allows British people the same age to work in New Zealand for a year.
In a joint statement, the prime ministers said the new Youth Mobility Scheme would be in place by at least 2024 – but it could be changed sooner. The annual quota for Kiwis going to the UK is 13,000 people per year, with 15,000 UK nationals able to apply for one of the visas to New Zealand.
Ardern meets Johnson at Downing St
Ardern met the British prime minister outside his official 10 Downing St residence, where the British press questioned Johnson’s leadership. He is facing pressure to expel his former deputy chief whip who is facing allegations of “groping”.
Inside, Johnson thanked Ardern. The two leaders met earlier in the week, at the Nato summit in Madrid where they attended a leaders’ dinner hosted by the King of Spain and the summit.
“A word of thanks and praise to New Zealand for the very strong line you take on Ukraine, and we have heard a lot about that from you at Nato,” he said.
What’s the PM doing in Europe?
Her stop in London dials down the pace somewhat from a hectic 22 hours in Brussels, Belgium, where New Zealand and the EU reached an agreement on a free trade deal.
Ardern appeared on morning television in the UK, where she was asked about just how family-friendly New Zealand’s Parliament is.
Just a few days before Ardern arrived in London, the UK Parliament officially banned babies from entering Westminster.
In contrast, British TV show Lorraine showed photos of Speaker Trevor Mallard holding babies in Parliament’s debating chamber while Ardern spoke about how important she sees it that Parliament is open to families and babies.
She said the playground, and welcome approach to babies even in the debating chamber, had improved the debate and ideas of New Zealand’s parliamentarians – just by having the very young nearby.
International interest in Ardern remains high.
She travelled on the Eurostar overnight to reach London, meeting many international fans – many in disbelief that the prime minister of New Zealand was simply wandering around the train carriages.
Her trip started in Madrid to attend the Nato summit.