Today marks an historic occasion for the United Kingdom. After 47 years of membership, a decisive referendum in 2016 and a general election in 2019, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will leave the European Union and embark on a new era of international trade and diplomacy.
CANZUK International in Toronto, Canada
There will, of course, be those who object to this withdrawal – an estimated 48% of the British public along with the majority of Member States within the European Union, to name a few.
But there is a bright future ahead of the UK; one of prosperity, opportunity, freedom and trade. It is a future that will benefit Remainers and Brexiteers, the young and the old, the political and the indifferent. It is a future which is both progressive and pragmatic, and even more beneficial than European Union membership which so many British citizens treasured.
That future is CANZUK – a diplomatic alliance of free trade and facilitated migration between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
There will be those who dismiss the idea of collaboration between these four, sovereign countries, but I challenge anyone to present one suggestion as to why this alliance could not work, and indeed, thrive.
Firstly, imagine being able to freely travel and work in any CANZUK country, with the ability to speak the same language, assimilate into society effortlessly and live in countries with the highest qualities of life in the world.
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It is without doubt an enticing prospect, but many will say “the UK voted against free movement – they don’t want more uncontrolled immigration”. A fair point, but CANZUK would provide no such thing. Whereas the EU sanctioned free movement with few restrictions, CANZUK would offer facilitated migration with greater controls afforded to each government for protection and national security.
By joining the already existing Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement (TTTA) between Australia and New Zealand (providing free movement for citizens between each country), Canadian and British citizens could benefit from visa-less travel, work and study opportunities. However, the TTTA sanctions free movement only if citizens meet strict health, character and security requirements. As the CANZUK countries already collaborate under the highly efficient Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance (the premier intelligence entente in the world), facilitated migration between the four countries would work effortlessly, ensuring that law abiding citizens have the freedom to travel while those on criminal or terrorist watch-lists are prohibited from crossing borders.
Freedom of movement with the EU is coming to an end, but the UK now has the opportunity to negotiate facilitated migration with its closest allies across the world, meaning rights to live, work and study abroad are retained while national security is strengthened and protected.
Many also critique that “it makes sense to trade with our closest neighbours, not those on the other side of the world”, but nothing could be further from the truth. In the day and age of ever-advancing technology and diplomacy, trade can be negotiated without the hindrance of distance. Just look at The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – a trading arrangement between Australia, Brunei, Mexico, Peru, Japan and Singapore. None of these countries are within close proximity of each other, yet distance is of no concern. Where there is a will to trade freely, it can be done without consideration of physical separation.
And who should have more will to trade than Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom? As four, mutually trading nations under a CANZUK agreement, we would form a trading bloc worth $3.5 trillion with a combined GDP of $6.5 trillion (USD). We would reap prosperity like never before as common friends, allies and partners with our shared appreciation for economic growth and quality of life. No four countries in the world are more suited for establishing trading arrangements than the CANZUK countries.
As like-minded nations and allies, free movement and trade between #Canada, #Australia, #NewZealand & the #UK can bring in a new era of opportunity and prosperity for citizens.#CANZUK @HonEdFast #cdnpoli #auspol #nzpol #ukpolitics #brexit pic.twitter.com/I1EzWk7xTW
— CANZUK International (@CANZUK) January 30, 2020
And of course, who can forget the accusation: “CANZUK is just a union of white countries. This is Empire 2.0!”
It’s ironic that the UK has been a part of the European Union for 47 years, in a protectionist bloc with 27 other majority-Caucasian countries, and not a word has been said about race, creed or colour. Yet a viable, commonsensical and pragmatic alliance is proposed between four allies and every sceptic is suddenly a civil rights activist.
CANZUK has never been about empire, race or colonies. If it was, it would include other majority-Caucasian countries such as Cyprus and Malta. Each of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are proud of multi-culturalism, with full respect for minority rights and diplomacy with all nations.
CANZUK is about shared history and familial bonds with four sovereign nations who have served as allies in each other’s times of need. It is about collaboration between countries who share the same language, the same respect for the rule of law, the same Westminster parliamentary system, the same commitment to economic prosperity, human rights and freedoms. It is an opportunity for the four to work together and realize benefits that could never be achieved acting alone.
Facilitated migration can grant citizens of each country the freedom to live, work and study without the cost and limitations of time-sensitive visas. Trade can promote economic growth and prosperity with additional benefits such as skills recognition, so teachers, doctors, architects and mechanics can work in each country without the need to re-train. Military cooperation can ensure that four like-minded countries can protect their citizens in a world of growing uncertainly with China, North Korea and Russia.
Yes, it is understandable that leaving the EU is painful for many in the United Kingdom, but the opportunities that lie ahead with our closest partners and allies are endless.
For the UK, the time has come to embrace the new. It is time to say goodbye to the European Union and welcome a new era of prosperity and opportunity with Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Although difficult to say “au revoir“, we promise you that you will not regret it.
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