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The published results show that 75% of Canadians, 58% of Britons, 70% of Australians and 82% of New Zealanders support free mobility and reciprocal rights to live and work freely in each other’s nations. This follows on from a poll conducted by CBC News of over 201,500 people, in which 91.8% of people polled supported free movement between the CANZUK countries, with only 5.5% opposing and 1.4% unsure.
President of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Lord Howell of Guildford, said: “We need to welcome our friends with open arms when they visit us, and in doing so, work to ensure as much free mobility as is workable. Between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, this flow and interchange of talented people is especially vital. This polling is invaluable as it shows the views and wishes of these fellow Commonwealth friends in strong support of closer ties. Governments must find ways to build them and to remove the obstacles that stand in their way.”
Although we are delighted with the results, there is concern among our supporters regarding the new measures taking effect within the UK with respect to working rights for non-European Union citizens.
Public pressure within the UK has caused the current conservative government (led by David Cameron) to stem migration numbers, but because EU rules limit what the UK can do to curb migration from EU countries, restrictions have hit Commonwealth nations the hardest, including the recent National Health Service surcharge and the increased salary requirements for Tier 2 employer-sponsored skilled-worker visas with respect to permanent residency.
At the CFMO, we are working to not only remove these recently implemented measures, but campaigning with members of parliament across the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to gather support for the free movement campaign and emphasise the growing support for mobility between citizens of our four countries. We have already made significant progress in gathering support from MPs, and by the end of June 2016, will hope to have developed considerable headway within the four governments so as to begin implementing a strategy for a free movement initiative to be put into place.
Of course, Commonwealth free movement is a huge project requiring negotiation and agreement from all four CANZUK countries, but the campaign is gaining momentum on a daily basis, and by working with associated organisations and campaign groups, such as the Royal Commonwealth Society, we are confident that in time, the free movement of citizens between the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will be agreed upon and implemented.
The poll results can be found here, with a report by Global News on the results found here.
Canadian Flag: The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck | Poll Infographic: Produced by Commonwealth Exchange