Boris Johnson announced in a statement issued Thursday at 10 Downing Street that he will step down as Prime Minister. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
OTTAWA – The Canadian government has said his party’s dismissal of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will have no impact on relations between London and Ottawa, including negotiations on a free trade agreement between the two countries.
Global Affairs Canada and the Department for International Trade indicated Thursday that relations with the United Kingdom will remain strong and that the ouster of the British prime minister will not affect negotiations for a free trade agreement.
Ralph Goodall, Canada’s High Commissioner to the UK, said political developments in London were “certainly important”, but emphasized that Canada had “fundamental confidence” in the strength and functioning of British democracy.
“Our shared priorities are not dependent on personal considerations,” he said. Key issues such as free trade negotiations, support for Ukraine, building closer security and intelligence partnerships, and tackling climate change will continue to progress as planned and as needed. Expect it.”
His comments come at a time of major political turmoil in Westminster that 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 will resign as Conservative Party leader and will step down as prime minister once his succession is secured. Conservative MPs demanded his removal and several ministers resigned from his government.
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 trade agreements made under the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement no longer apply to the United Kingdom after Brexit.
Alice Hansen, a spokeswoman for International Trade Secretary Mary Ng, said in Ottawa on Thursday that negotiations on the new trade agreement would proceed smoothly because Canada and the United Kingdom share a long history and tight ties.
Johnson, who spearheaded the UK’s exit from the European Union, has always been a staunch supporter of closer ties with Canada, including trade ties, since Brexit.
The two countries signed a Trade Continuity Agreement to keep most of the provisions of the Europe Agreement in force, until a new bilateral agreement is concluded. Formal negotiations began last March.
The United Kingdom is the third largest destination for Canadian exports, after the United States and China.
Sabrina Williams, a spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie, said on Thursday that the UK is one of Canada’s closest and most important allies. She said the two countries have a “mutually beneficial relationship and a long tradition of close strategic partnership”.
However, there is likely to be a degree of uncertainty in Ottawa about whether Britain’s strong stance in support of Ukraine – including the supply of military equipment – will continue at the same power amid the political turmoil in London.
Johnson has long been a staunch opponent of the invasion of Ukraine, and has worked 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 surveillance in the Arctic to protect sovereignty over Canada’s northern flank.
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