Writing for the Sunday Express, Marco Giannangeli details the public and political support behind CANZUK and the plans to finalize free movement and trade between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in the near future.
Canada could formally propose a non-political union with Britain, Australia and New Zealand within just two years.
The plan, revealed by potential future Canadian PM Erin O’Toole MP on the weekend that Britain left the EU, would see Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK ease migration, bolster defence sharing and increase trade between the four Commonwealth nations.
Together the “natural allies” of 136 million people account for more than £4.3trillion in gross national income and around 10 percent of the world’s wealth. They also share close strategic relationships with the US through the Five Eyes intelligence community, the American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Armies’ Program and a programme to provide interoperability between navies.
Because of their similar GDPs, the risk of “brain drain” and “wage dumping” caused by EU Freedom of Movement would not be there, say supporters.
The so-called CANZUK plan, an expansion of the Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement currently enjoyed between Australia and New Zealand, already has the backing of Boris Johnson, who last year said: “If we can do something better with Australia, Canada and New Zealand we certainly should.”
Help us by making a donation today
Last night Bob Seely MP, chair of the CANZUK All Party Parliamentary Group, confirmed the FCO had started to make plans.
Canada’s Conservative Party, currently in opposition, has already formally adopted the plans.
While Justin Trudeau narrowly scraped a victory in October’s elections, popularity for his Liberal Party minority government is waning, leading to the likelihood of a Conservative victory in 18 months.
Speaking on the weekend that Britain formally left the EU, O’Toole, currently in a Conservative leadership contest, said: “There’s a real chance of another general election within the next 18 months. If I become PM I will prioritise CANZUK through PM Johnson and counterparts in Australia and NZ. There’s a potential this would form a very real working group and lead to substantive efforts right out of the gate.
A message to all in the #UK:#Brexit creates opportunities for travel, trade and prosperity like never before. Read on to find out why. #CANZUK #cdnpoli #auspol #nzpol #ukpolitics #EUhttps://t.co/mtr9MQyhGi
— CANZUK International (@CANZUK) January 31, 2020
“There is much interest across all four partners. With Brexit and PM Johnson’s majority, it would be likely well received in Britain.”
Decisions over migration would be decided by a steering group which would “set the agenda”, he said, adding: “If we get a surge in LNG development in British Columbia, there might be an ability for specialised skilled labour from Britain and Australia and New Zealand. This would be mutually beneficial.
“Similarly, it would for the UK to make a case for any early priorities to fill any gaps in the NHS, for instance. It’s an obvious step. We’re a natural fit as allies: since our earliest days we have fought together, we have bled together and shared aspirations together.
“We are all Commonwealth members, we are all security partners, we share the same sovereign, the same system of law, the same commitment to human rights and are already partners in a variety of ways, such as student and defence exchanges. This is a natural evolution of an idea that could align perfectly.”
The former Royal Canadian Air Force captain added: “This is the time to deepen and strengthen ties with Canada’s closest allies. It would result in an aspirational multilateralism in a time where people are quite cynical about multilateral organisations around the world, where people don’t really share common interests, and which are essentially games played by bad actors.
“This would be an alliance of countries doing things together through shared interests and engaging with those who share the same national security interests and human rights commitments, to work together on trade, investments, capital and people investments”.
He credited British expat James Skinner, a Vancouver-based political activist and CEO of CANZUK International, with making the idea popular in Canada, adding: “He built a lot of online interest which really took off when I started to talk about it nationally and connecting with people internationally.”
In Australia Senator Eric Abetz, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “I believe this would make us the envy of the world. We might in fact encourage CANZUK members to have reciprocal rights like the EU. For tourists and trade, given our commonality, there’s a real scope to have greater free trade.”
He rejected any EU-style political merging between the four sovereign nations.
“This would absolutely not be a political union. I wouldn’t want a CANZUK Human Rights court which would determine what Australia or New Zealand parliaments can legislate,” he said.
“We all want to avoid the diminution of democracy. That’s been the cause of so much concern in the UK and elsewhere in Europe about the impact of the EU. It’s within the national interest of all four countries to keep each other’s criminals out, or to prevent those who have other debts to respective governments from travelling, but this still leaves massive opportunities for 99 percent.
“The more limited approach of CANZUK would get a lot of traction because people would see the many benefits but no downside. We’d continue to remain masters of our own destinies.”
In London Bob Seely MP, who co-authored a report on CANZUK with the Henry Jackson Society think tank, said: “This isn’t to replace the Special Relationship with the US, UN or EU.
“This is about the future with four very modern multicultural nations which are very close. It’s about enriching our lives by re-investing in traditional alliances.”
He added: “The Foreign Office is looking at it. We have the EU and US trade deals to focus on this year. But many of us in Britain and abroad would like to put this plan on the front burner”.
Join CANZUK International on social media