OTTAWA — The Canadian government says the removal of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson by his party will have no impact on relations between London and Ottawa, including negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two countries.
Global Affairs Canada and the International Trade Department said on Thursday that relations with the United Kingdom will remain strong and that the removal of the British prime minister will not affect negotiations for the free trade agreement.
Ralph Goodale, Canada’s High Commissioner to the UK, said the political developments in London “are certainly important” but maintains that Canada has “fundamental confidence” in the strength and functioning of British democracy.
“Our common priorities do not depend on personal considerations,” he said. Key issues such as free trade negotiations, support for Ukraine, building closer security and intelligence partnerships, and combating climate change will continue to progress as planned and as needed.
His comments come at a time of heightened political turmoil in Westminster, which led to the ouster of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister after just three years in office.
In a statement outside 10 Downing Street on Thursday, Johnson announced he was resigning as leader of the Conservative Party and would step down as prime minister as soon as his succession was secured. Conservative MPs demanded his departure and several ministers had even resigned from his cabinet.
But some also want Johnson to step down as prime minister immediately.
Canada and the United Kingdom are negotiating a new bilateral trade agreement because the trade agreements concluded under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union no longer apply to the United Kingdom after Brexit.
“A long story”
In Ottawa on Thursday, Alice Hansen, a spokeswoman for International Trade Minister Mary Ng, said negotiations on the new trade deal would continue smoothly because Canada and the UK share a long history and close ties.
Johnson, who spearheaded the UK’s exit from the European Union, has always been a strong supporter of closer ties with Canada, including on trade, since this ‘Brexit’.
The two countries have signed a “business continuity agreement” to keep most of the provisions of the European agreement in force, until a new bilateral agreement is concluded. Formal negotiations began last March.
The United Kingdom is the third destination for Canadian exports, after the United States and China.
Sabrina Williams, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, said Thursday that the UK is one of Canada’s closest and most important allies. She said the two countries had “a 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 tough pro-Ukraine stance, including the supply of military equipment, will continue unabated amid political unrest in London.
Johnson has always been a staunch opponent of the Ukraine invasion, working closely with Canada and other Western countries to impose sanctions on Moscow and counter Russia’s disinformation campaigns.
Under his leadership, the UK also supported increased security and policing in the Arctic to protect sovereignty over Canada’s northern flank.
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