Politics·POWER & POLITICS

Canada could get better trade deal with U.K. post-Brexit, says Rona Ambrose

Rona Ambrose, the former interim Conservative leader, told CBC News Network's Power & Politics that a no-deal Brexit could allow Canada to secure a better bilateral trade deal with the U.K.

Ex-cabinet minister says there's no point in striking a bilateral trade deal at this point

Britain's new prime minister, Boris Johnson, waves from the steps outside 10 Downing Street, London, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Frank Augstein/The Associated Press)

Former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said today that Canada should hold off securing a bilateral trade deal with London because it could get a better deal after the U.K. leaves the European Union.

"There's no point in Canada striking a deal with the U.K. at this point when the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson is saying there is going to be what's called a no-deal Brexit, which means there will be pretty much all tariffs lifted coming into the United Kingdom," Ambrose told host Katie Simpson in an interview with CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

"Canada could probably get a better deal if they wait until after Brexit."

Canada and the U.K. were working behind the scenes to secure a bilateral trade deal, but Canada put those talks on ice when the U.K. published a "temporary list" offering any country tariff-free access for 87 per cent of what the U.K. imports post-Brexit.

Johnson has said that, regardless of whether he secures a deal with the EU, he is going to get Brexit done by Oct. 31.

Ambrose said she assumes Canada will wait to see what happens post-Brexit before making any final decisions.

"The good thing about Boris Johnson as PM is we know that he is a free trader. We do know that he doesn't like tariffs. We do know that he's not a protectionist when it comes to economic policy, unlike Trump," said Ambrose.

At the end of June, The Sunday Times reported that British Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt, who rivalled Johnson in a bid to become Britain's next prime minister, had recruited former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and Ambrose to help negotiate a Brexit deal.

When asked Friday whether Johnson or anyone on his team has approached her since Johnson's leadership win to perform a similar role, Ambrose replied, "Not yet."

When pressed further, Ambrose said she doesn't expect to be recruited but that she would offer her support if approached.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Friday with Britain's new prime minister. According to a Downing Street spokesperson, "Trudeau pledged to work with the U.K. to achieve a smooth transition to a U.K.-Canada free trade agreement."

Former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said Friday that that there's no point in Canada securing a bilateral trade deal with London because it could get a better deal after the U.K. leaves the European Union. 9:43

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