Former U.K. PM Boris Johnson: Canada’s AUKUS Exclusion Not Intentional

Former U.K. PM Boris Johnson: Canada's AUKUS Exclusion Not Intentional

London (Parliament News) – Former U.K. PM Boris Johnson clarifies Canada’s AUKUS exclusion wasn’t intentional, stating it stemmed from a submarine deal. He also discusses potential Canadian inclusion and other global matters.

Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed Canada’s withdrawal from AUKUS — the trilateral security agreement between Australia, the UK and the United States — was not planned to send any particular message.

In a wide-ranging premier interview on CTV’s Question Period, airing on Sunday, Johnson described host Vassy Kapelos that he now believes it could be a “good thing” if Canada entered the group as it evolves, but that it was initially started specifically to address the complexities of a submarine purchase deal.

“It arose in a very unique way,” he stated. “There was no intention to exclude anybody.” 

AUKUS was first reported in September 2021 and was created to assist Australia develop nuclear-propelled submarines, as Indo-Pacific countries performed on plans to deal with an increasingly adversarial China. Johnson was functioning as the prime minister of the U.K. at the time.

When questioned by Kapelos whether Canada’s exclusion was “a slight in any way,” Johnson stated “no.” “It wasn’t Canada that was cheesed off,” he declared. “Canada was fine.”

“It was the application that came off the ceiling in Élysée Palace,” he counted, explaining that Australia originally planned to purchase submarines from France, but that they were the “wrong type” and “too noisy,” so the Australians came to the U.K.

The U.K. then had to concern the U.S. because of nuclear contracts between the two, Johnson said. “When it comes to AUKUS, this was a deal that was done, basically, because of the Australian need for a different type of submarine,” Johnson said. “That was the history of it.”

Last June, U.S. National Security Council representative John Kirby also suggested to Kapelos in a CTV Question Period interview there were no programs at the time to re-evaluate the makeup of AUKUS to include Canada.

Meanwhile, The Canadian Press had conveyed at the time that the Canadian military and other defence experts raised concerns about Canada being shut out of the group.

On Monday, following the departure of a new defence policy document, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference that Canada has had “excellent conversations” with all three current AUKUS members around joining the security pact for its “phase two.”

In his interview, Johnson also examined the U.S. presidential election, saying there are “reasons for optimism” with a potential second Donald Trump presidency, despite problems his return to the White House could threaten U.S. aid for Ukraine.

He also debated climate change and the U.K.’s pledge under his leadership to reach net zero by 2050, saying politicians should not toss aside their climate responsibilities in order to address the cost of living crisis.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.