Nova Scotia premier to get personal view of post-vote U.K.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is confident trade will continue with the U.K. despite Thursday's referendum vote in favour of withdrawing from the European Union.

Premier Stephen McNeil to spend next week in Scotland and England, as well as Ireland

Premier Stephen McNeil's week-long visit will take him to Dublin, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. (The Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said he was surprised by Thursday's Brexit referendum results, but remained optimistic that a United Kingdom outside the European Union would still enjoy a healthy trade relationship with Nova Scotia.

"I don't know what this will mean in the end," he said. "But there's no question they're a huge trading partner. They'll continue to be a trading partner for us."

A slim majority of residents in the U.K. voted in favour of leaving the EU. Negotiations to withdraw from the political and economic union are expected to take years.

Last year, Nova Scotia companies exported $490 million worth of goods to EU countries, mostly seafood, wood and forestry products, as well as manufactured goods.

'An important trading partner'

A deal signed by Canada and the EU in 2014, and expected to come into force this year, is set to eliminate almost all the tariffs on those exports. It's unclear if the referendum results are going to affect that.

McNeil tried to sound positive.

"Regardless of the vote, they will be an important trading partner for Canada and for indeed Atlantic Canada equally as much as the rest of Canada. And we're going to continue to move forward to make sure that we build those links."

McNeil to visit Ireland, U.K.

In an effort to do that, McNeil is leaving Sunday to Ireland and the U.K. to promote tourism and the province as a place to do business. His week-long visit will take him to Dublin, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.

McNeil is being joined by a staffer from his office, two officials from Intergovernmental Affairs, two from Tourism Nova Scotia and one representative from the Halifax International Airport Authority.

The premier will also make a brief visit to Vimy Ridge in France to lay a wreath on behalf of Nova Scotians, particularly those with a connection to the Nova Scotia Highlanders.

Members of the 85th Battalion helped capture Vimy Ridge in the bloody battle to claim the high ground during the First World War.

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.