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Brexit or no Brexit, UK with Bangladesh: Sir Simon
Permanent Under Secretary (PUS) of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Sir Simon McDonald speaks on “Bangladesh and United Kingdom’s Relations

Brexit or no Brexit, UK with Bangladesh: Sir Simon

Dhaka, Apr 24 (UNB) – The United Kingdom (UK) on Wednesday reiterated that they want to have a good relationship with Bangladesh no matter what happens regarding Brexit.

“Our intention, no matter what happens, is to have a good relationship with Bangladesh,” said Permanent Under Secretary (PUS) of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Sir Simon McDonald.

He came up with the remarks when a questioner wanted to know how three things — a possible Brexit deal, no deal or a bad deal will affect UK’s relationship and business with Bangladesh.  

Earlier, he delivered a lecture on “Bangladesh and United Kingdom’s Relations in the context of UK’s exit from the European Union” organised by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) in its auditorium.

Sir Simon also co-chaired the third Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque at state guesthouse Padma.

He said a possible Brexit deal, no deal or a bad deal — these three things are very different things and the relationship will be affected in different ways.

“In my view, it’ll be easiest if we leave the European Union with a deal because a deal gives us a framework…,” he said adding that the worst will be leaving the EU with no deal.

On Tuesday, Sir Simon said Brexit is happening though it has been delayed. “Once the UK is outside the EU, we can look afresh at our relationship further afield….we think there’re new possibilities.”

He said once they are outside the EU, they expect to be able to trade even more freely with partner countries like Bangladesh. “But this will have to be negotiated.”

At the BIISS event, the British top official faced a number questions on issues related to extradition, sheltering convicted criminals in the UK and irregular migrants.

In most cases, he did not give any direct answer but at one stage, without mentioning any name, he said, “This is an issue. It’s a sensitive issue.”

Sir Simon also said there are many cases and over 90 percent of those cases are happily resolved. “This is because of the good and smooth work between the agencies and high commissions of Bangladesh and the UK.”

Asked whether they discussed the extradition issue in the Strategic Dialogue, he said, “I’m an official, not a politician but I’ve learned a few things from politicians and my answer is example of that. In our talks today, we discussed all the issues which were expected to be discussed.”

Sir Simon said they have touched upon 17 different policy areas during the discussion and climate change is one of those 17 topics.

“Bangladesh is clearly one of the countries which is most affected….Bangladesh and the UK can work closely and will work….,” he added.

Sir Simon, while briefing reporters after the dialogue at Padma, said they take personal pride and interest in the dialogue as he along with the Bangladesh Foreign Secretary initiated it.

“We’re able to look at recent successes of Bangladesh, especially economic successes and very strong growth in the economy,” he said.

Sir Simon led a 21-member delegation from London, which he thinks, a mark of importance his government and country have for this relationship.

On Tuesday, he said the UK wants to have even stronger relationship with Bangladesh once they come out from the European Union (EU), noting that Bangladesh’s economy has been “growing strongly” in recent years.

“Bangladesh is an important market for the UK and it’s becoming even more important,” he said.

Besides, the UK PUS had a bilateral tête-à-tête with his Bangladesh counterpart. Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem also attended the dialogue.

Sir Simon is scheduled to leave here tonight (Wednesday night).

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