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Canada-U.K. relations: warm feelings for Britain, but lukewarm appetite for two-way trade

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 Summit.

Over the past three years Brexit has paralyzed British politics, ended the careers of two prime ministers and threatened to re-ignite conflict between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. While the rest of the world waits for the outcome of the British election on December 12, Canadians are circumspect about the suitability of their long-time ally as a lucrative trade partner.

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds that while people in Canada think very highly of Britain, and while more than three-in-ten claim close personal ties to the country, the number saying Canada should focus on developing closer trade ties with the U.K. has dropped significantly over the past two years.

Currently, the British Parliament has yet to solidify the details needed to exit the European Union, and the deadline has been extended three times, most recently to January 2020.

Against this backdrop, a plurality (42%) see no impact on economic opportunity for Canada in a post-Brexit era. While the British government has signalled it is interested in pursuing a closer economic relationship with Canada once it is outside the EU, fewer than one-in-five (19%) in this country expect a positive impact for their own domestic economy.

More Key Findings:

  • Canadians are divided when asked whether they ultimately think Britain will stay (55%) or go (45%).
  • If Britain does exit, more Canadians say the result will be a worse (54%) rather than improved situation for the U.K.’s economy (22%).
  • If given the choice themselves, a majority of Canadians would vote to remain in the EU (69%).

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