Brexit Politics

Could CANZUK be the next step for Brexit?

After Brexit, there's no telling what Britain's role will be on the international stage. A fast-growing movement, advocating a customs union with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand may just have the answers.

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Image Credit: Number 10

WHAT IS SEEMINGLY absent from the current debates surrounding Brexit, is a clear lack of direction. On the home-stretch, the United Kingdom finds itself unable to secure a deal with the EU, and with the onset of the internal Market bill, both Johnson’sgovernment and the people of this country are with no shortage of tribulations.

Between the unwavering support of the pro-EU Nationalists in Scotland and Northern Ireland and cries from fool-hardy, pro-leave English national-ists demanding sovereignty over Britain's waters, little can be envisaged of a Britain unscathed and wholly united in the aftermath of negotiations. Beyond the noise, however, there is a movement which aims to supplant the UK's dominance on the world stage, this is “CANZUK”.

What is CANZUK?
Earlier this year, Boris Johnson announced that the government was officially engaging in trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, hoping for a “comprehensive and ambitious” deal due to be settled at the beginning of next year. In a public statement, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham confessed that: “we (the Australian government) have been preparing for this deal since the UK decided to leave the EU”. In a similar vein, New Zealand’s trade minister David Parker enthusiastically proclaimed that “New Zealand is pleased to be among the first countries to negotiate a trade agreement with one of our oldest friends”.

The idea of reaching out to theUnited Kingdom’s closest historical allies in a post-Brexit setting is not exactly a new concept, for some time there has been a groundswell of public interest in uniting the Commonwealth realms that share similar attributes. In 2015, founded by American-Brit James Skinner, a non-profit organisation dubbed CANZUK International came into being.

The organisation’s objective is to raise awareness among local politicians of the benefits that can come from closer economic, social, political, and military ties between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Unit-ed Kingdom, forging this partnership into a new global hegemonic alliance and a pillar of Western Liberal values.

The movement has, since the EU referendum in 2016, gained significant traction online and has gained massive favour in the former British dominions. It has since, however, been co-opted by the center-right throughout all concerned regions, replicating the movement’s provisions and adopt-ing them within their own party’s policies. It has been advocated by prolific politicians such as Erin O’Toole of the Canadian Conservative party, who ran for party leadership on the back of increasing ties with their “Five-Eyes” security partners. Judith Collins’ National party has echoed this rhetoric also, with party Spokesperson Todd MC-clay demanding that a free-trade deal with the UK “should involve freedom of movement”. The CANZUK proposals have also been propped up by major think tanks, such as the Adam Smith Institute and the Henry Jackson Society.

Is it possible? Although this may seem a pretty common-sense solution, one must wonder if this concept is entirely feasible? As an optimist, if any of the actions taken by Boris Johnson's government are anything to go by, then it is likely that in the coming years the United Kingdom will be preoccupied with a true calling, reconnecting with distant cousins long neglect-ed. This feeling has been captured in the momentous decision to promote former- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the UK's Board of trade last September.

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(Image credit: Nick-D)

As a realist, however, it isn’t too difficult to remove the veil of good-intentions and see that by embarking on such trade missions the British government may in fact be seeking higher aspirations, that we may also be seeking eligibility for entrance into the very lucrative Trans-pacific partnership, of which three CANZUK nations are already members along with Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Peru.

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(Image credit: L.tak)

Criticism of CANZUK
The CANZUK movement has for some time now been dismissed by critics as a nostalgic and supremacist public relations instrument, designed to subdue hardline Brexiteers who envisage a grand return to the “Days of Empire”. That as an alliance of English-speaking nations, the only concern is that the British government should trade with people who look, act and speak like us. For the first time since Brexit, the scope for young British citizens once more to work and travel far across the globe is certainly a promising prospect. With the same Monarch, parliamentary democracy, language, and multicultural composition, it is possible our direction is to return to the fold.

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