PM promotes ol' frenemy in Italy

PM promotes ol' frenemy in Italy

Britain may be less influential when it leaves the European Union but the Prime Minister says the United Kingdom's prized permanent seat on the UN Security Council is safe.

John Key is touring Europe trying to build bridges ahead of Brexit. The trip's also become a promotional tour for his old political nemesis.

Mr Key got the full Italian treatment and was quite taken by Italy - the meeting with its Prime Minister Matteo Renziwent well.

At one point it even seemed a bit of Rome had rubbed off - the accents between Prime Ministers virtually indistinguishable.

Another thing the Prime Ministers have in common is Helen Clark - Italy supports her bid as United Nations Secretary General.

"I've genuinely been pushing her case, I genuinely want her to succeed," says Mr Key.

The Prime Ministerial tour of Europe is multi-purpose - Bastille Day, a bonus dinner with his French based daughter and former All Black Dan Carter. There's the Clark UN charm offensive and of course Brexit. Then there's the fact New Zealand's seat on the Security Council expires in five months.

The United Kingdom holds its seat in perpetuity as one of the powerful permanent five (P5), though it will arguably be less powerful when it leaves Europe.

Countries might have a view about whether they have a bigger or smaller voice now post-Brexit but fundamentally it doesn't alter their capacity to be a P5 member.

New Zealand came to the table with big goals to reform the council.

Those P5 - The UK, US, France, China and Russia - are forever disagreeing. Using their power of veto to block almost everything. Meaning any move to side-line a more isolated Britain could be vetoed by Britain.

But if the pro-EU Scotland leaves the United Kingdom it could be more problematic. It may put the United Kingdom in the firing line.

"I don't think so. It's obviously a very technical matter once you get to that point because their membership is as the United Kingdom," says Mr Key.

So despite much being made of the United Kingdom's global influence being diminished post-Brexit, it's most important international role on the Security Council is safe, according to John key.

Far less certain are Helen Clark's chances of securing the top UN job, but Mr Key's gone into overdrive to promote his old frenemy.