• The Commonwealth Freedom Of Movement Organisation: Our Year In Review

    It has been an incredibly successful year for the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation, as we have made significant progress in advancing our campaign for freedom of movement between the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

    We wish all our supporters a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
    (photo: Visit London)
    In March, a poll released by the Royal Commonwealth Society revealed that free movement was supported by 58% of the British population, 70% of the Australian population, 75% of the Canadian population and 82% of the New Zealand population. This gave us a tremendous mandate to pursue our objective of achieving free movement between these countries.

    In May, the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Alexander Downer, pledged his support for free movement between the UK and Australia, stating “Over time we would like to continue to talk to the British Government about arrangements we could make to liberalise movement between Australia and the UK, if not have completely free movement - probably not completely unregulated but to have freer movement of people."

    In June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, which created a tremendous opportunity for us to advance our free movement agenda. This was complimented with both Australia and New Zealand agreeing to negotiate new immigration deals with the United Kingdom once Brexit is instigated in March 2017.

    In August, leading British economist, Andrew Lilico, proposed a “CANZUK” union between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, advocating the countries to “join together in a close geopolitical alliance based around trade, free movement of persons, mutual defense relationships [and] regulatory convergence”. The CFMO now works closely with Andrew Lilico in formulating efforts to advance the CANZUK ideal.

    In September, the CFMO was featured in major newspapers and online media, explaining the organisation’s campaign and detailing the success of our online petition, which has received over 171,000 signatures (and continuing to rise).

    September also saw UK Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary, Boris Johnson, and Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, discuss visa liberalization for Australians and Britons following the UK’s departure from the European Union. Discussing increased visa access for both countries, Julie Bishop stated “should we be in a position to conclude a free-trade agreement after Brexit well then obviously [improved access] can be the subject of a free-trade agreement”.

    In October, New Zealand party leader and Member of Parliament, David Seymour, openly announced his support for free movement between the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, stating “Brexit provides new options as Britain pivots away from European immigration. Let’s approach Britain with a proposal for a two-way free movement agreement, similar to what we have with Australia".

    In November, former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, also endorsed freedom of movement between the United Kingdom and Australia in the Spectator Magazine (Australia). Abbott stated “A ‘one page’ deal between the world’s fifth and 12th biggest economies for zero tariffs, full mutual recognition of standards and credentials, and free movement of people to work-but-not-to-bludge would be a rare win for economic common sense”.

    Finally, December revealed leaked documents from the British government confirming plans to create a “prosperity zone” with Canada, Australia and New Zealand once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. The likely meaning of this entails free trade agreements between the nations, but also the negotiations of visa liberalisation and potentially, freer movement.

    With such incredible support from high profile politicians and the general public, together with extensive media coverage from mainstream newspapers and online outlets, 2016 has been an incredible year for our campaign. Our mission is to achieve significant reform regarding free movement between the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand by 2020, and there is no doubt that with our ongoing success, we are closer than ever before to achieving this goal.

    On behalf of the team at the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation, we would like to thank each of our supporters for helping our campaign and contacting their local Members of Parliament and Senior Government Ministers in support of our initiative. Your activism has led to freedom of movement becoming one of the most talked about campaigns in international politics, and has helped us attain closer ties between the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

    There is still work to be done, but with our success so far, there is no doubt our campaign will succeed with our ever growing support.

    For more information regarding our campaign, please follow us via Facebook and Twitter.

    We hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.