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Moved on from being Britain’s farmyard — and much better for it

Opinion Piece

Thanks for the apology Nigel but we have moved on. That was the correct response to comments from UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage to this country for the way it had been treated when Britain entered what was then known as the Common Market 43 years ago.

Farage, who worked for years to achieve Brexit, said he was sorry for what his parents’ generation had done to New Zealand and hoped the countries could return to how they previously operated.

Prime Minister John Key was right to say New Zealand had no desire to relitigate past issues.

Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston pointed out that New Zealand is in a much stronger position than it was when Britain first joined the European market.

Only 3 percent of New Zealand’s exports go to Britain now, a vast change from the 40 percent of four decades ago and the 80 percent of the 1950s.

More importantly, 11 percent of our exports go to Europe and the country must work to ensure a continuing good relationship with the European Union now that a “free market ally” is exiting it.

Nigel Farage’s comments are a sideshow to what is a nervous time for his country and indeed the world, as people try to get to grips with the initial shock of Brexit and its aftermath.

It would be wrong to fix on short-term advantages such as cheaper online shopping, or trips to Britain and Europe, because of the falling pound and euro.

Although New Zealand has steadily become more culturally and racially diverse, a huge percentage still identify as being of British extraction.

The turmoil in Britain will continue with developments like the vote of no confidence by Labour MPs against the party leader Jeremy Corbyn, while in London — where a majority voted to remain — Mayor Sadiq Khan is worried about the effects on the city’s financial services. Potential for more shocks and even greater instability now lie in the European mainland, where Brexit contagion could spread in coming weeks, months and years. New Zealanders will not completely escape this maelstrom.