Boris Johnson’s ousting will not impact trade relations with Canada


The Canadian government says business is business as usual with the UK despite the dramatic ousting of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson by his party.

Global Affairs Canada and the Department for International Trade signaled Thursday that relations with the United Kingdom will remain strong and that the ousting 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 are significant at the moment” but that Canada has “fundamental confidence” in the strength and functioning of British democracy.

“Canada and the UK have an important, 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 fighting change climate change will continue to progress as predicted and expected.”

His remarks come at a time of great drama in Westminster which led to the ousting of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister after just 3 years in office.

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

The announcement follows a tumultuous 24 hours in which he tried to cling to power despite demands to leave from a string of Tory MPs who said he was no longer fit to serve.

In a bid to force him out of office, dozens of ministers resigned on Wednesday. But the beleaguered Johnson entrenched himself in Downing Street, hastily reshuffling his ministers to fill the voids, until he recognized 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 he told Westminster “the herd instinct is powerful and when the herd move, it moves”.

As Johnson’s potential successors hastily tried to muster support in Westminster, ministers in Ottawa stressed that political chaos in London would not affect Canada-British relations.

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

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

Johnson, who has seen through Britain’s exit from the European Union, has championed closer ties with Canada, including on trade, after Brexit.

When Britain severed 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 signed a continuity agreement keeping most of the elements in place while a new bilateral trade agreement is concluded.

Formal negotiations for a free trade agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom began in March. Great Britain is the third largest destination for Canadian exports, behind the United States and China.

Sabrina Williams, spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, said 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 a degree of uncertainty in Ottawa as to whether Britain’s tough stance in favor of Ukraine – including the supply of military equipment – will continue at the same time. pace amid political unrest in London.

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

While Prime Minister, the UK also supported increased Arctic security and surveillance to protect sovereignty over Canada’s northern flank.

Johnson narrowly survived a confidence vote last month, refusing to leave Downing St despite losing the support of 41% of Tory MPs.

The attempt to get rid of him followed a series of scandals, including the revelation that parties had been 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