Saturday , May 25 2024

CANZUK: The Logical Next Step

On the 31st of October 2019, Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union, with or without a withdrawal agreement. It is a debate that has divided the country for nearly 4 years in the wake of the 2016 referendum and has exposed or exacerbated ever widening cracks in our social and political cohesion. To put it mildly, your average Briton is tired of it. Most of us are sick and tired of hearing about the subject day in, day out, hearing it take precedence over other issues and simply want to get on with it, as evidenced by the success of the Brexit Party in the European Elections earlier this year, and the major boost in popularity the Conservatives have enjoyed under the pro-Brexit Boris Johnson. Extremely vocal minorities on both sides will try to persuade you otherwise—the argument that Brexit is somehow a “fascist coup” being a particularly notorious example of this—but ultimately the prevailing public opinion is obvious to anyone willing to look for more than a few seconds.

So then, where next? Assuming the government manages to keep to the deadline and leave on time, what will be the next step for Britain? Whilst the options are certainly many, one that has gained considerable traction over the last few years is that of CANZUK. According to the website of CANZUK International, one of the leading groups of the movement, CANZUK is “closer ties between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK”. Perhaps the most important facets of such agreements would be freedom of movement and trade between each of these nations, the former of which has demonstrated considerable popularity amongst the publics of each nation, with approval rates of over 50% in each.

It is a logical move and—in my opinion, anyway—one that we should have made a long time ago. Each of the four nations are closely linked in history, culture, beliefs, and governance, all united under the Crown, and stand to benefit greatly from increased cooperation. United these four nations have the potential to stand as a global power, in both politics, economics, and military capability. With the ever more volatile state of global affairs, a strong and stable alliance of equals is of extraordinary worth and has the potential to stand as a bastion of balanced economics against the protectionist EU and the extreme deregulation of the US. I shall leave discussion of economics to those more knowledgeable on the matter, but it is important to note regardless.

Freedom of movement between the four nations is also extremely popular amongst the general public, according to polls conducted last year. Approval ratings for CANZUK freedom of movement were as follows: Canada-76%, Australia-73%, New Zealand-82%, UK-68%. Whilst one cannot rely on polls to be precisely accurate, they nonetheless can provide a very useful insight into general public opinion, and in this case the public is largely united in support of such agreements. Parity between economies and quality of life ensures that any migration will be both reciprocal and sustainable, and cultural closeness ensures that integration will be easy and seamless in most cases, allaying many of the fears of open borders. Closer political cooperation may yield further results on that front, with the implementation of an Australian-style “Points-based immigration system” already planned by the British Conservative Party.

I bring up the fears of mass immigration as it plays directly into one of the main points of opposition to CANZUK that I am aware of, namely that it is either a white supremacist conspiracy or a globalist effort to flood these countries with economic migrants. To put it bluntly, both fears are idiotic as they are completely divorced from the reality of the situation at hand. Economic migration between the four nations is highly unlikely as each have achieved parity, as previously stated. Were the agreements to include other nations as some have suggested, then such fears of mass migration would be justified, as we have been seeing over the last few years with the migrant crisis in Europe and, to a lesser degree, the US. This is not an issue I intend to wade into other than to say that CANZUK has nothing to do with it.

Another argument I have seen levied against CANZUK is that it is a form of “Imperial nostalgism” and all that entails. Of course, for such an argument to work one would have to agree that the empire was a bad thing, which I vehemently disagree with, but regardless the point made is that it is a form of empire building. Again, this is untrue; CANZUK is intended as a mutually beneficial alliance of equals, with no member state holding undue power over the other. In its most basic forms—which have been gaining traction in both the British and Canadian political spheres—it is simply a series of agreements to facilitate increased cooperation through free trade and movement. I won’t deny that many (myself included) advocate for further political and military integration, with the extreme end being my own desire for a CANZUK federation, but I wholly recognise that my desire is a fringe one and that the bulk of the CANZUK momentum is simply for increased cooperation as previously discussed.

Of course, I cannot discuss CANZUK without at least addressing the military implications. United, the CANZUK nations wield a world class military, with global reach capabilities and force projection, a sizeable multirole navy, and can cement themselves as a major global military power. In our ever-changing world, with the threat from nations like China looming, such an assurance is invaluable in my eyes. Whilst it would not be able to match the US or China in terms of raw numbers or resources—at least currently—, better military cooperation and integration between the CANZUK nations would most definitely give us the strength to protect our interests across the globe. Combined with our already existing defence agreements with the US and the Five Power Defence Arrangements, it would provide the four nations with a well-rounded defence strategy. Again, however, this should not be thought of as a focal point for the movement, as in truth it receives precious little attention overall. I pay it close attention as it is a personal interest of mine and I feel it is important, but CANZUK is primarily a diplomatic and economic movement as previously discussed.

What about the rest of the Commonwealth? Why are they not included? The answer to that is deceptively simple. The rest of the Commonwealth is not currently included as they do not have the same quality of life, culture, economic quality, or stability as the CANZUK nations. Their inclusion would be difficult, and to do so without first aiding them at achieving parity is both irresponsible and dangerous, as it opens the door for the previously discussed one-way economic migration, which many nations are already struggling to deal with. That is not to say that this is permanent, however; many supporters of CANZUK also support widening the alliance to include the Commonwealth Realms (Commonwealth nations that still retain the Queen as the Head of State), and even the Commonwealth writ large. Should CANZUK prove successful, I see no reason why it wouldn’t be expanded to incorporate the Realms, as integrating them would be a far easier task than integrating somewhere like South Africa or India.

Overall, it is my firm belief that CANZUK and all the opportunities it entails is by far the most exciting and important prospect for Britain as we leave the European Union. We have in our reach a unique opportunity to create a globe spanning, democratic, and culturally united polity, an alliance of equals capable of being a major world power. It would be foolish not to seize such an opportunity, and in our day and age we can ill afford to be foolish.

This post was originally published here:

About John Talbot

John Talbot is a university history student and amateur writer from the UK. His main interests are history and politics—with a particular emphasis on Britain and the CANZUK movement— which have shaped his beliefs over time. In his free time he also enjoys writing fiction and world-building.

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