UK Economist and Adviser to CANZUK International, Andrew Lilico, explains step-by-step why a geo-political partnership with Canada, Australia and New Zealand is the most logical step for the UK as it seeks new political relationships ahead of Brexit.
Let’s start with a few assumptions, which many of you may dispute, but which will help us for reasons that will become obvious.
1.) Let’s assume that the main merits of geopolitical partnerships are not economic, but, rather, about how to achieve geopolitical goals such as facing down the Warsaw Pact, absorbing the post-Communist states of the Iberian Peninsula or of Eastern Europe as democracies or avoiding political and economic domination by a large and powerful neighbour. So geopolitical partners are not to be chosen on the basis of depth of trading or financial links (otherwise, for example, China’s closest geopolitical allies would be the US and EU).
2.) Let’s assume that the UK gained overall, in geopolitical terms, from being in the EU — i.e. at least for much of the time it was an EU member, it was able to achieve certain key geopolitical objectives better, through its EU membership, than would have been possible had it not been in the EU.
3.) Let’s assume that it became impossible for the UK to stay in the EU long-term, because the EU has chosen to proceed in a direction that the UK cannot follow, including the development of a Single European State with a single currency, common citizenship, President and so on.
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4.) Let’s assume that the main reason the UK was not able to follow was that the UK regards itself as having an importantly different constitutional and political culture from that prevailing in most of the EU, and that the UK was not willing to give those up as part of being subsumed into a broader EU constitutional and political culture.
5.) Let’s assume that, even if it had been an option to continue within the EU without being part of the Single European State, doing so would imply being dominated by that much larger neighbour, which the UK was not willing to do.
6.) Let’s assume that it did not make continued EU membership any easier, as in the EU, the UK was in a zone of common citizenship, and hence free movement, with countries with a much lower GDP per capita than the UK, which UK citizens did not want to live and work in, and hence migration flows became highly asymmetric (free movement became about who was allowed into the UK, not about the advantages of mutual migration deals).
Each of the above points can be disputed, but they would not be unusual views amongst mainstream UK supporters of leaving the EU. Suppose you were someone that believed them all. What would you think the natural thing would be for the UK to seek to do, post-Brexit? I submit that it would be defined by the following steps.
A.) Since, according to assumption (2) above, the UK had gained from its most recent main geopolitical partnership (the EU), now that it is leaving that partnership, you would be interested in exploring whether some new useful geopolitical partnership might be available.
B.) Since, according to assumption (3) above, the UK ended up having to leave the EU because it could not follow through with deepening the relationship with its partners for as long as they wanted to deepen it, it would be natural to consider whether there are partners available that would seek a relationship of about the same depth the UK wanted.
C.) Since, according to assumption (4) above, a key reason the UK was not willing to keep deepening indefinitely was that its partners had importantly different constitutions and political cultures from its own, that suggests that any new partners should not have vastly different constitutions or political cultures from the UK’s. That suggests countries such as Brazil, the US, or Japan are not natural candidates.
D.) Since, according to assumption (5) above, the UK was not willing to be geopolitically dominated by a much larger partner, that implies that any new geopolitical partnership should not be with much larger countries, such as the US or China.
E.) Since, according to assumption (6) above, the UK’s position in the geopolitical partnership was made harder by being paired with much poorer countries, that suggests that new geopolitical partners should not be much poorer than the UK. That rules out options such as China, India or South Africa.
F.) Since, according to assumption (1) above, the purpose of a geopolitical partnership is not primarily economic but, rather, one of the projection of values or achievement of joint civilizational goals, that suggests that the partners need not be the UK’s main trading or finance partners. Instead, they should be countries likely to share the UK’s values or civilizational goals.
So, then, if you have followed the steps so far, what conclusion can one draw? What countries might have similar constitutions and political cultures to the UK, share the UK’s values and civilizational goals, not be disproportionately larger than the UK (or so much smaller, even in combination, that the UK might dominate them), not be so much poorer than the UK (or richer than it) that migration flows would be highly asymmetric, and be potentially interested in forming a geopolitical partnership with the UK?
When put this way, the question almost answers itself. There are no candidates in the world that meet these criteria remotely as closely as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. For the UK, to seek a CANZUK partnership post-Brexit is not the reason why we are leaving the EU, and a CANZUK partnership’s merits for the UK is not a matter of how much trade it does with CANZUK (though that could well increase significantly).
Rather, that we should seek a new geopolitical partnership in CANZUK is the natural conclusion to draw if one understands the merits of EU membership and the reasons for leaving as set out above.
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