Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has thrown his support behind his "friend" former London Mayor Boris Johnson to take over as the UK's Prime Minister.
Speaking to the Foreign Affairs and Trade Select Committee this morning, Peters – who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs – said Johnson had what the people of the UK want – "character and courage".
Peters likened Johnson to former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
In a departure from usual protocol, not only did Peters back Johnson when at the foreign affairs select committee this morning, he went as far as saying the Johnson will win.
"The great news is, my friend Boris Johnson is going to be the Prime Minister of the UK so we're off to a flying start," he told MPs.
"He's going to be the Prime Minister, and he's going to be an excellent Prime Minister. He's got what the ordinary British people want – character and courage."
Speaking to media outside the select committee, Peters said he has always thought Johnson was a winner.
He said he has backed his campaign for the UK to leave the EU since it began in 2016.
Peters said Johnson also had vision – "that was very important".
He said New Zealand's relationship with the UK would be enhanced by Johnson becoming Prime Minister.
Johnson is the front runner in the race to be the next British Prime Minister.
In the most recent ballot, Johnson won 143 of the 313 votes cast by Conservative MPs.
With almost half the support of his caucus, Johnson is well ahead of Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who won 54 votes.
Roy Stewart – a friend of National MP Mark Mitchell – was eliminated in the third knockout round on Wednesday.
Johnson is a strong favourite to take over as Prime Minister.
He was one of the driving forces behind the Brexit campaign and has been highly critical of the European Union.
Johnson favours a "hard Brexit" – whereby the UK would be completely cut out of the EU and taking it out of the single market but would have more control over its borders.
This is a perspective Peters shares.
"The sooner [British MPs] face the facts that it will be a hard landing and prepare for that and get on with the future, the better," he said in January this year.
Peters and Johnson have a good relationship, according to Peters.
This time last year, the pair met in the Churchill War Rooms in London to discuss the UK's plan to scale up its engagement in the Pacific.
After the meeting, Johnson said the UK was one of the Pacific's "oldest friends".
Peters said discussions also underlined the ongoing strength of the ties between New Zealand and the UK, as well as the scope that exists for even deeper co-operation in many areas.
In mid-2017, Johnson came to New Zealand where he said New Zealand and the UK have a strong relationship.
"I am determined to ensure that New Zealanders are able to come and go with a free and cheerful va-et-vient if I can use a Continental expression," he told Morning Report at the time.