Big overseas trip for Ardern – and for the Government

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has set off on an international trip for a couple of weeks. It began with a visit to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast yesterday. She then goes to Europe to meet with the leaders of Germany and France, and then on to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London.

She is also scheduled to visit the Queen – that’s right up Ardern’s celebrity PR style alley.

Trade will be high on Ardern’s political agenda.

It will be interesting to see how things play out here in her absence, given the difficult last month for the Government.

Craig McCulloch (RNZ): CHOGM great chance for PM to be gone

The trip comes at a pivotal time in international relations – roughly one year ahead of the United Kingdom’s final departure from the European Union. Much of the focus then will be on trade.

New Zealand is ready to jump into bed with the EU as soon as the member states hit the green-light on negotiations.

Officials here hope that could come in the next few months and former Trade Minister Todd McClay understands a date is set for late May.

As for the UK, it’s already signalled New Zealand will be one of the first cabs off the rank for a trade agreement.

But official negotiations can’t Bregin till Britain formally Brexits (sorry) in March next year.

At that point, the UK will go into a 21-month transition phase during which it can finally start negotiating deals.

CHOGM has always been regarded as one of the less-important global events – a bi-annual gab-fest between former British colonies.

…it’s the first since the Brexit vote and the first in London in more than three decades.

Leaders from all but two of the 53 Commonwealth countries are to attend. In previous years, as many as half didn’t turn up.

CHOGM is unlikely to hit many headlines.

The photo opportunities too will be priceless for the Prime Minister. Her media team will be hanging out for that shot of her alongside the similarly-youthful Emmanuel Macron. And don’t forget the Queen. Never forget the Queen.

The media are unlikely to let anyone forget the Queen, who is old enough to be Ardern’s grandmother. Irrelevant pap is likely to get the most attention.

Both Ms Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters will use the opportunity to do the rounds and meet some new faces.

With both Ardern and Peters overseas (a problem when you have the deputy PM as Foreign Minister) who will be fronting up for the Government here?

Labours deputy leader Kelvin Davis? he has been virtually anonymous since performing poorly after his sudden promotion during the election campaign last year.

He may have done some homework since and be able to answer the occasional question. It will be interesting to see how he shapes up. he may get to be acting PM a bit over the next few months with Ardern out of action for a few weeks and Peters in charge but still with international duties.