Canada and Post-Brexit Britain

Susan Le Jeune the British High Commissioner to Canada in an interview with Steve Palkin

CANZUK: What is That?

Trade Negotiations Between Canada and the UK

The Full Video Interview is available here:

“Here’s a question. Do you think the UK takes it’s relationship with Canada for granted?”

“I think it has done, I think that’s a very fair point. I think because it’s a comfortable relationship because we don’t have any serious bi-lateral problems or disagreements, I think there is a tenancy to take it for granted. I think that’s changing. I think the whole Brexit issue has made us look again and refocus at some of these relationships which as I say are traditional and as I say comfortable and we are investing more effort and we are putting in more resource and I’ve got more staff working for me in Ottawa which is a real sign that the government in the UK is taking the relationship more seriously and wants to get more to get out of it. So I think you are right, we need to do more, we need to take it more seriously, we need to value it more but I don’t think that is going to be difficult to achieve. I think I’m pushing at an open door when I say that this relationship needs to be more important and I think, for all sorts of reasons, that’s a feeling which is replicated in Canada. So we are working much more closely today on things, then we have been at any time in the past and that’s great and it makes it a very good time to be doing my job here.”

“If and when your country does actually leave the European Union, what does that potentially do to the Canadian-UK relationship?”

“I think that means we in some way will be freer to work with you on big foreign policy issues, outside the European Union we won’t be banned, not banned, bound by EU position so much which gives us a bit more leeway to sometimes take a more forward position on certain issues. I think you can already see for example on Venezuela that the UK is working very closely with Canada and that will continue. We worked very closely on Syria, we helped together to get the white helmets civilian peacekeepers out of Syria and I think there will be more such issues where we’ll worker closer together. On the trade relationship, we will be working as the UK, not as part of the EU and that will allow us once we’ve left to have an even closer, even more productive, trading relationship.”

If you are out of the EU, Canada doesn’t have a Free Trade Agreement with the UK, we “would have to Presumably Create One?”


“Have they Negotiations begun Yet?”

“Yes, well they are not negotiations we are not allowed to negotiate while we are a member of the European Union.”

“So Discussions?”

“Yes, “Technical Discussions” is what we call them so they are taking place even as we speak. They are productive and constructive discussions but you know any trade-negotiation is difficult and Canadians are very good trade negotiators. So those discussions are continuing and I am confident that we will get to the point where we have a Deal that we could use if we did not leave the European Union with a withdrawal agreement. So if we crash out the European Union on the 29th of March (1 month and 5 days away), I’m confident there will be something which will allow Canada and the UK to benefit from the terms of CETA and then once we are out we’ll look at improving on CETA for the future but we can’t do that until we’ve actually left.”

“CANZUK? What is that?”

“Well it’s an idea that some people have that Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia could form a sort of free movement block so that there would be easier movement of people, workers and so on between the four countries. It’s a bit of an embryonic idea. As you know one of the reasons that the Brexit vote went the way it did was because people were concerned about free movement so I don’t think this is necessarily the moment to talk about more free movement between countries but if we were looking to deepen our relationships or strengthen our relationships with some of our old partners, then those are obviously some of the sorts of things we would want to have on the table.”

“Well I was going to say, you talk about Free Movement within Commonwealth Countries that Share alot of the Same Values unlike, I think some of the Problems that were Identified in Brexit, so does that make this More Likely to Happen Then?”

“I think if we are going to look at our immigration policy in general, then those are some of the countries where our immigration policy might be more flexible but you know there are some things which already make free movement between our four countries easier then the UK and South Africa, so there are building blocks you could use as a start to that sort of idea.”

“I think the Conservative Party of Canada Actually Endorsed this Idea at their recent Policy Convention so there is some Appetite for It Here Apparently.”

“Yes there I think and it’s one of the things that freer movement does build up and you see it where there are schemes for young people to travel for example, a sort of working holiday visa scheme is that it builds up relationships and it builds up links which then come to fruition later on. So if you’ve been to study or done a working holiday in Canada or New Zealand or wherever it is when your 18 or 19 then you have an understanding of and an affection for that country, which you know stays with you when you continue your later career.”