Former PM Harper offers help on trade, but staying ‘neutral’ in UK Tory race

Former prime minister Stephen Harper says he’s willing to help the next British prime minister negotiate a divorce deal with the European Union — but he’s not taking sides in the race to decide who that is.

Harper tweeted Saturday night that he’s “willing to assist whoever serves as the next leader of the UK Conservative Party on trade matters, should they wish.”

But as the current chair of the International Democrat Union, an alliance of conservative-leaning political parties from across the globe, Harper says he must remain “neutral in all member party leadership races.”

He was responding to a report in The Sunday Times newspaper that said British Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt had “drafted in two senior Canadian politicians” to help negotiate a Brexit deal.

The Sunday Times reports that Hunt — one of just two remaining candidates to replace Theresa May as party leader and prime minister — has recruited Harper and former Conservative MP Rona Ambrose.

Hunt tells the newspaper he’s intent on securing a so-called “Canada-plus” trade deal with the EU, based on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement primarily negotiated by Harper’s government.

Neither Harper nor Ambrose immediately responded to a request for comment on Sunday.

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