After the British public’s historic referendum vote of June 2016, and months of speculation, debate and uncertainty, Theresa May’s government has invoked Article 50. Brexiteers will be overcome with joy, whilst Remainers will be dismayed at the thought of severing ties with our European neighbours.
As the old saying goes, however, “what’s done is done” – our nation may be divided on the issue, but we’re leaving the European Union.
But what if, in the wake of Brexit, an initiative were proposed that offered economic and social prosperity for us all outside of the EU? What if Britain had the chance to take the lead on the most politically progressive project the world has ever seen, guaranteeing us (and future generations) the opportunity to live, work and study abroad, reunite with family and friends thousands of miles away, and reap the benefits of a global footprint through our ties with other Commonwealth nations?
A proposal too good to be true? Not in the slightest, because all of this is achievable through greater cooperation with Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
CANZUK International is a leading advocacy group campaigning for free trade, freedom of movement and a coordinated foreign policy for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (the CANZUK countries).
Our proposals have gained credible support since our founding. Over 180,000 people have signed our petition calling for free movement between these nations, and our campaign has received the backing of numerous politicians and diplomats across the world.
Of course, there are those who will say our objectives shouldn’t be pursued, but allow me to explain why introducing free trade and free movement solely between the CANZUK nations would be the best thing for the UK and our Commonwealth partners.
#Canada “at front of queue” for #Brexit trade deals with #Australia & #NewZealand, paving way for #CANZUK agreement:https://t.co/ZzV7izckxN
— CANZUK International (@CANZUKint) March 19, 2017
Before the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973, we shared our borders with Australia, New Zealand and Canada; and each citizen of these nations was free to live and work in the UK (and vice-versa). Our countries cooperated harmoniously with a mutual understanding that all of our citizens were welcome, and in return we reaped the economic and social benefits of open borders and reciprocal rights to ‘indefinitely remain’.
Post-Brexit, we have the chance to reap those benefits once more.
Collectively, we would have the fourth largest economic area in the world, a combined GDP of $5.7 trillion, a GDP per capita value higher than that of the United States, and an unemployment rate of under 6 per cent.
More so, citizens of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom would have the opportunity to work, study and reside freely within this kindred group of countries, whilst our businesses recruit the best international talent without the cost, risk and often lengthy delays experienced under present immigration controls.
And we only need to look to the EU for inspiration. If 28 member states with 508 million people, over 60 different languages and numerous cultures and backgrounds can afford the rights to free movement and free trade for their citizens, then why can’t we?
We are four, kindred, independent nations which share a Sovereign, the common law legal system, a venerable parliamentary tradition, and the English language – why should we ignore the outstanding post-Brexit opportunities available to us?
Our CANZUK partners are also eager to cooperate. A recent international poll found that 70 per cent of Australians, 75 per cent of Canadians and 82 per cent of New Zealanders would embrace a free movement initiative between our nations, all the while retaining our sovereignty and independence which the European Union could not afford us.
Former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, has openly called for free trade and movement, reiterating Boris Johnson’s appeal for a ‘bilateral mobility zone’. Numerous MPs in Canada, such as Erin O’Toole and Andrew Scheer, have also backed free movement between the CANZUK countries, with support reciprocated by New Zealand’s ACT party leader, David Seymour.
But where free trade would open our economy to growth and prosperity, would free movement for our citizens pose international security risks? Not at all.
As our four countries operate under the highly-effective ‘Five Eyes’ Intelligence Alliance (together with the US), there would be a natural mechanism for monitoring security threats, nullifying any risk that free movement might facilitate cross-border criminal activity and terrorism.
Our countries have always stood together throughout history as the leading nations of the Commonwealth and, to this day, our citizens share cultural and historical ties that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. Working together would give the CANZUK nations a truly global footprint in the realms of commerce and diplomacy.
Now that we are leaving the European Union, we can advance the ever-growing diplomatic, economic and political connections that we already share through our Commonwealth ties, and embrace the countless benefits that free trade, freedom of movement and a coordinated foreign policy for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom would bring.
There is a long road ahead for the UK with its negotiations, but with our closest Commonwealth allies extending their hands in friendship, our future will be one of prosperity and opportunity.
Our future is CANZUK.
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