EU referendum: Australia would welcome In vote, says PM Turnbull

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Malcolm TurnbullImage source, EPA

Australia would welcome the UK staying in the European Union, the country's prime minister has said.

Malcolm Turnbull said relations would be "very, very close" whatever the outcome of the referendum and it was "absolutely a decision for Brits".

But he echoed other world leaders by saying having a "close" ally in the EU was an "unalloyed plus".

Vote Leave said Britain's ability to control deals with countries such as Australia depended on an Out vote.

Asked about the 23 June referendum on Sky News in Australia, Mr Turnbull highlighted existing trade and intelligence links between the UK and Australia.

"We welcome Britain's strong role in Europe," he said.

"The EU is an enormous economic and political entity and from our point of view - you might say from our selfish point of view - having a country to whom we have close ties and such strong relationships... is definitely an advantage.

"So if the British people, in their wisdom, decide to stay in the European Union, then we would welcome that."

'Take back control'

Mr Turnbull's comments come after a similar backing from New Zealand's premier John Key.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said it was evidence the Leave campaign was wrong to argue the UK must choose between Europe and the Commonwealth.

Mr Hammond said international support for the UK to remain underlined "the simple fact that our Commonwealth partners see Britain as being stronger and more influential as a member of the EU".

He added: "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."

A spokesman for Vote Leave said: "Malcolm Turnbull said whatever the choice, Britain and Australia will be very close.

"Yet only if we vote Leave will Britain take back control of its ability to strike deals with countries like Australia instead of leaving it in the hands of Brussels bureaucrats."

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