Jacinda Ardern issues congratulations to Boris Johnson - 'looking forward to working together'

Source: 1News

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered congratulations today to incoming British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after he won the Conservative leadership late last night. 

Jacinda Ardern and Boris Johnson.

"I've had a positive text exchange with incoming Prime Minister Johnson this morning to congratulate him on his election," Ms Ardern said. "He said he was looking forward to working together.

"Mr Johnson is familiar with New Zealand in his former role as foreign secretary and has an excellent relationship with our Foreign Minister that I am sure will be mutually beneficial for our countries."

Ms Ardern said good relations with the UK is important to New Zealand. 

"Irrespective of the outcome of Brexit, New Zealand will remain a close friend and partner of the United Kingdom and stands ready to launch negotiations towards a free trade agreement when the UK is in a position to do so, and I am sure that is something that Mr Johnson will want to discuss."

Mr Johnson will be made UK Prime Minister on Wednesday , taking over from Theresa May, who announced her intentions to step down as PM in May after being unable to deliver Brexit. 

Ms Ardern was asked on TVNZ1's Q+A this week her opinion of what sort of PM Mr Johnson would be.

"It's not for me to make judgments about other people's prime ministers. We have democracies for a reason," she said. 

She spoke of Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters' existing relationship with Mr Johnson. 

"He's met Boris before. He's engaged with him on behalf of New Zealand before, and it's always helpful when you know someone going into a senior leadership role."

In June, Mr Peters told Q+A Mr Johnson had his support since stepping down as UK foreign secretary last year.

"I sent him a text when he resigned, about half past 3 in the morning to say I did not think it was the end, but rather, a bit like Churchill, it'll just be the beginning and it looks like it's going to come true," Mr Peters said.

As for what Boris Johnson said in reply to his text - "Well that's private, I'm just telling you what I said."

The Foreign Minister and New Zealand First leader said Mr Johnson is not just a character, he had character. 

"The second great asset he's got is a thing called courage. And he's rather visionary. So I think he's a man for the times."

Asked if Mr Johnson was the man to be PM, Mr Peters said, "Well I think he's going to make it. I shouldn't be making these forecasts, but I believe from a long way out that he would be."