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'Reasons for optimism' with potential second Trump presidency: Boris Johnson

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Former U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson says there are "reasons for optimism" with a potential second Donald Trump presidency, despite concerns his return to the White House could threaten U.S. aid for Ukraine.

In an exclusive interview with CTV Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, Johnson said Trump would not want to begin a new term as president by "letting Putin win."

"I don't think any U.S. president, let alone a president who wants to make America great again, is going to want to kick off by basically losing, allowing the West to be humiliated by Vladimir Putin," Johnson said.

Johnson's defence of Trump, who is the last major candidate standing in the Republican presidential nominee race, comes as a US$60 billion aid package for Ukraine remains stuck in the U.S. Congress.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson is refusing to call a vote on the bill as many hardline Republicans, including Trump, oppose further aid unless it is structured as a loan. There is also a push to tie the funding to a number of border security provisions in a bid to sway some Republican members who are against sending more money to Ukraine.

While Johnson told Kapelos he is "worried" about waning support, he also said he believes Congress will move to pass its aid package.

"This is a matter for U.S. Congress. It's a matter for them, but my impression is that there's a lot of support now in the Republican Party for treating this as the supplemental, the $60 billion, which is very important for Ukraine, treating that as a loan," Johnson said.

Since Russia's invasion began in February 2022, Johnson has been a staunch ally of Ukraine and has advocated for continued western aid for the country.

But in recent months, Johnson has also expressed support for Trump. In a January opinion piece for the Daily Mail, Johnson wrote that a "Trump presidency could be just what the world needs."

When asked by Kapelos how he can reconcile both his support for Ukraine and Trump's position on Ukraine, Johnson points to the former president's record and says "go back to what he did" in Iran and Syria.

"You look at Iran. The activities, the often-malign activities or destabilizing activities of Iran in the Middle East. Nobody much did anything until suddenly Donald Trump, January 2020, as far as I can remember, he takes out Qasem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps). Look at what he did with Syria," Johnson said.

"Again, you had a situation in which Barack Obama, Joe Biden, the red lines are famously crossed. Assad uses chemical weapons against his own people. Who is the guy who actually pounds Assad's air bases and really punishes him for that?"

When Kapelos pressed Johnson again on the scrutiny against Trump, Johnson said he understands the concern.

"Of course, we've all got to be anxious about the situation. Of course, we've got to work and work and work to persuade our friends that it's the right thing to do. But I think if you look at the facts, if you look at the history of what he's done in the past, there are reasons for optimism," Johnson said.

The U.S. has provided Ukraine with US$44.2 billion in military assistance since Russia's unprovoked invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022.

Johnson said he believes Ukraine can win the war, but not without further aid from the U.S.

"The story of the war over the last two years has been that every time we think we've given them enough, it's proved incorrect. We need to keep giving more," Johnson said.

Johnson was in Ottawa on April 10 to speak at the Canada Strong and Free Network conference.

You can catch the full, exclusive interview with Boris Johnson on CTV Question Period this Sunday at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT on CTV and CTV News Channel. 

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