UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s departure will not affect ties with Canada or trade talks

The Canadian government says business as usual with the UK despite his party’s dramatic ouster of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Global Affairs Canada and the International Trade Department said Thursday that the relationship with the UK will remain strong and that the ouster of the British prime minister will not affect Canada’s negotiations on a crucial free trade agreement.

Ralph Goodale, Canada’s High Commissioner to the UK, said “political developments in the UK today are undoubtedly momentous” but Canada has “fundamental confidence” in the strength and functioning of democracy. British.

“Canada and the UK have a great, multidimensional, mature and enduring relationship,” he said. “Our common priorities do not depend on personal considerations. Key issues such as free trade negotiations, support for Ukraine, building deeper security and intelligence partnerships, and combating climate change will continue to progress as planned and expected.” .

His comments come at a time of high drama in Westminster that led to the ouster of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister after just 3 years in office.

In a statement outside Downing Street on Thursday, looking typically bedraggled, Johnson said he would step down as prime minister when a replacement was found.

The announcement followed a tumultuous 24 hours in which he tried to cling to power despite facing demands from a series of Conservative MPs who said he was no longer fit to serve.

In an attempt to force him out of office, dozens of ministers resigned on Wednesday. But the beleaguered Johnson barricaded himself in Downing Street, quickly reshuffling his ministers to fill the gaps, until he recognized that his position had become untenable.

In his resignation speech on Thursday, Johnson said it was “painful” not to see through the political project he had started, but told Westminster that “the herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves.”

As Johnson’s potential successors scrambled to rally support at Westminster, ministers in Ottawa stressed that the political chaos in London would not affect British-Canadian relations.

The removal of UK PM @BorisJohnson will not affect ties with Canada, trade talks. #CDNPoli #FreeTrade

A spokeswoman for International Trade Minister Mary Ng said negotiations for the new trade deal would continue smoothly as Canada and the UK share a long history and close ties.

“Canada and the UK share a long history and close people-to-people ties,” said Alice Hansen. “We are confident that our trade negotiations will continue smoothly.”

Johnson, who witnessed Britain’s departure from the European Union, advocated closer ties with Canada, including on trade, after Brexit.

When Britain cut its ties with the European Union, it also ended its inclusion in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union. The two countries have signed a continuity agreement that keeps most of the elements in place while a new bilateral trade agreement is reached.

Official negotiations for a free trade agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom began in March. Britain is Canada’s third largest export destination, behind the United States and China.

Sabrina Williams, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, said the UK is one of Canada’s closest and most important allies. She said the two nations have “a strong mutually beneficial relationship and a long tradition of close strategic partnership.”

However, there is likely to be some degree of uncertainty in Ottawa over whether Britain’s strong stance of support for Ukraine, including the supply of military equipment, will continue apace amid political turmoil in London.

Johnson has been a vocal opponent of the Ukraine invasion, working with Canada and other Western countries to impose sanctions and counter Russia’s disinformation campaigns.

While it has been prime minister, the UK has also supported increased security and policing in the Arctic to protect sovereignty on Canada’s northern flank.

Johnson narrowly survived a confidence vote last month, refusing to move from Downing St despite losing the support of 41 per cent of Conservative MPs.

The attempt to get rid of him followed a series of scandals, including the revelation that parties were held in Downing Street at the height of the pandemic, in breach of COVID-19 rules.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 7, 2022

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