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Published by Simon Heffer - The Interpreter

For years in Britain the idea of the Commonwealth looked marginal at best, eccentric at worst. It was some sort of national consolation prize for having lost the British Empire; it gave the Queen something to do; it reminded us Brits that we were an old country with, to put it mildly, an interesting past.

The UK's Brexit vote can revive the Anglosphere
(photo: Washington Post)
But once we joined what evolved into the European Union in 1973, the Commonwealth – or rather, if one adds in the long-lost American colonies, the Anglosphere – became of secondary importance to Britons, as we pooled our sovereignty and made trading relationships in common with our partners in Europe.

This caused a certain amount of distaste here. Whereas our Commonwealth cousins, from Australia and elsewhere, had always had right of entry into the old Mother Country, now they had to prove a grandparent to get in.

Most of us became used to meeting Australians in Britain who had, through an Italian or Greek grandparent, obtained the EU passport necessary to come into Britain at will. Such arrangements grated with those old enough to recall when Britain could not find enough Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and Indians to help defend her from German aggression in two world wars. Germans, by this stage, could waltz into the United Kingdom at will, and live and work there.

But when the campaign to leave the European Union formally organised itself about a year ago, and started to outline what life would be like if it achieved its aims and, indeed, left, the Commonwealth started to assume an importance it had not had for more than 40 years. The talk was now of trading globally: with China, and Brazil, of course, but more to the point with those nations with whom the British share ties of history, blood and language.

The new British prime minister, Theresa May, appointed a Secretary of State for International Trade in her cabinet; Dr Liam Fox, who had been one of the most ardent campaigners to leave, and who had been closely associated in his earlier days with the late Lady Thatcher. Dr Fox immediately got on a plane to India, and since then has continued to travel the world to discuss possible trade deals for Britain. He is not permitted to conclude any such deals yet – that cannot happen until Britain has left the EU, which may take another two and half years – but his travels will also include the US, where he has fostered close political links for the last 20 years.

Dr Fox, like Mrs May, also met Malcolm Turnbull when he visited London recently: and Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner in London, let it be known that Australian officials were already in the UK discussing potential deals, and meetings would continue to be held at least twice a year. The prospect of cheaper access to Australia’s wine, beef and dairy products, all highly popular in the UK, as well as to New Zealand lamb, Canadian grain and cheese, and South African wines, is appealing to British consumers, even those who have become increasingly used, since the 1970s, to buying French meat, Italian wines and Spanish cheese.

Free movement, as well as free trade, can be discussed after Brexit
(photo: Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)
But the Anglosphere – as memories of those from it who died in those two world wars remind us – is about more than just trade. Britain’s place in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has institutionalised its reliance on the US for its defence: something many Britons are becoming more keenly aware of as Vladimir Putin and Russia become more capricious and unreliable.

Because of shared ties of language, culture and history the Anglosphere is popular with the British public, and for now serves the function of a comfortable suit of clothes that has hung in the wardrobe unused for many years but which, on being pulled out, turns out still to fit very well. Added to the fact that millions of Britons have close family members living in those countries, all these considerations make a re-commitment to the Anglosphere popular with many Britons.

There remains a large proportion of Britons who are angry and offended by the result of June’s referendum, and will not be reconciled to it: but they are nowhere near a majority of opinion, and they understand the benefits of good relations with America and the Commonwealth. They are not hostile to the idea of an Anglosphere, but regret that it seems to be necessary. Once the trade deals start to stack up – as they will – acceptance will grow.

Barack Obama was enticed during the referendum campaign to interfere and warn Britons that they would go 'to the back of the queue' if they left the EU when it came to negotiating a trade deal with the US. It had a poor effect on British public opinion, and is credited as one reason why Britain chose to leave. Mr Obama will not be president once the time comes to do a deal, so his views are academic: and numerous other US politicians have gainsaid him, keen as they are to do a deal with the country that is America’s biggest overseas investor. It won’t happen overnight, but the Anglosphere is on its way back as the focus of British engagement with the world.

Published by 9News Australia

Britain and New Zealand have agreed to set up regular trade policy talks to help push for greater global trade liberalisation and reform as Britain leaves the European Union, trade minister Liam Fox says.

New Zealand's Minister of Trade, Todd McClay, has begun talks
Britain, which voted to leave the European bloc in June, is keen to court countries outside the EU on trade, but cannot formally agree to any deals until it has left the bloc, a process which will take at least two years from when it starts divorce talks.

"In leaving the EU, we have the opportunity to drive even greater openness and put Britain at the forefront of global trade," Fox said in a statement after meeting New Zealand's minister of trade, Todd McClay.

"This new trade policy dialogue reflects a strong political commitment from New Zealand and the UK to take the lead in pushing for greater global trade liberalisation and reform and I look forward to working closely with them."

Prime Minister Theresa May, appointed leader shortly after the June referendum, has said she will trigger the formal divorce procedure -- Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty -- by the end of March next year.

New Zealand, Australia, Canada and other members of the Commonwealth, whose members are mostly former British colonies, have been targeted by British officials as potential areas of growth.

McClay said New Zealand was keen to agree a trade deal.

"The UK is a major trading partner for New Zealand, and we have signalled our interest in a free trade agreement with them when they are in a position to negotiate one independently of the European Union," he said.

"In the meantime, we hope this dialogue will allow us to develop a better understanding of one another's trade interests."

CFMO Comment

Brexit has provided multiple opportunities for the United Kingdom to expand trade and immigration policies to the Commonwealth. Previously, we have seen Australia and the UK discussing post-Brexit trade negotiations, with visa liberalisation and free movement also being discussed as part of the talks.

We hope that as with previous conversations between Julie Bishop (Australia) and Boris Johnson (UK), the issue of free movement will also be discussed between Todd McClay (New Zealand) and Liam Fox (UK) as the United Kingdom considers post-Brexit trade options, and in addition, post-Brexit visa reform for Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Our online petition, advocating the free movement of citizens between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, has received over 165,000 signatures (and is continuing to rise).

Thank you to all who have signed and shared.

Our support is growing rapidly every day, and members of the public (as well as high-profile politicians and diplomats) are pledging their support for visa free/work permit free travel for citizens between our four nations.

Our petition is also one of the most viewed petitions on this month, as thousands of people across the Commonwealth have signed and shared online, demonstrating huge support for our proposals across the world and promoting our cause to be one of the fastest growing issues within international politics.

The campaign is making tremendous progress, and we are determined to continue increasing our awareness so free movement will be adopted as official international policy of the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada in the near future.

However, we can only achieve this with your continued support…

How can I help?

Sign and share our online petition – with over 165,000 signatures, our petition is being viewed daily by politicians, diplomats and ministers across the world. The more signatures we receive, the more we demonstrate the global support for our initiative, providing a mandate for our respective governments to adopt free movement as official immigration policy.

To sign our online petition, please click here.

Join our email campaign – using our email/letter templates, you can download and email/write to your local MP, Minister for Immigration and Prime Minister pledging support for our free movement proposals.

To join our email campaign, please click here.

Contact your local MP – change within our parliaments begins with parliamentary members drafting Bills and promoting causes which the public support. By writing to your local MP, you are pledging your support for free movement and asking them to represent your voice in parliament.

For details on how to contact your local Member of Parliament, please click here.

Donate - campaigning, advertising and promotions all require monetary investments to help us achieve freedom of movement.

To donate to the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation, please click here.

We sincerely appreciate all support and efforts made to promote freedom of movement between the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. For more information about how to get involved, please email our support team at

Since our establishment almost 2 years ago, we have received thousands of emails from supporters of our free movement proposals between the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Would the USA be an ideal addition to CANZUK?
Most of these emails are strictly Commonwealth related (pertaining to campaigns, media interviews and enquiries regarding the future of the CANZUK area), but some ask the common question: “Why just these four countries”?

For more information about why we have selected the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to be the ideal foundations for a free movement initiative, you can read our previous article here which explains why.

However, even though this article clarifies why Commonwealth countries such as South Africa, India, Jamaica and the Bahamas would not be ideal candidates to enter a free movement agreement with the CANZUK area, it does not clarify why countries outside of the Commonwealth would not be able to join.

It’ll probably come as no surprise that the country outside of the Commonwealth that is most frequently enquired about joining our free movement proposals is the United States of America, and in truth, it is a rational question to ask “Why not?”

Why shouldn’t the USA be invited to join a free movement initiative with Canada (its neighbor to the north), the United Kingdom (its mother country), Australia and New Zealand (its closest Pacific allies)? After all, it is one of the most economically developed countries in the world (if not the most economically developed), its majority language is English, and even though not part of the Commonwealth, they share a similar history and culture to the rest of the CANZUK area. In essence, it may be worth changing our organisation’s policy from promoting free movement with CANZUK countries to free movement with CANZUK countries plus the USA.

Then again, maybe not.

I know many American citizens would love to be part of an open border agreement with the CANZUK area (in the same way the European Union operates), but with further thought and scrutiny, this may be an idea best left alone. On paper, it seems like a wonderful way to unite with our North American counterparts and promote our Anglosphere relations, but when we factor economic and social dynamics, it could become more problematic in the long term. Here’s why:

From the statistics shown above, we can see that the USA is very similar to the average-accumulated values of the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The USA and CANZUK nations share similar populations of English speakers, rates of life expectancy and population growth rates. In certain circumstances, the USA even outperforms the CANZUK nations with a considerably higher GDP, GDP per capita and unemployment rate.

However, even though these factors deem the USA as the perfect applicant for free movement with the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, one statistic stands out that raises numerous red flags; population.

Population of USA: Over 321 million people
Compared to the CANZUK average, the United States has a population over 10 times greater with 321 million citizens. In perspective, that is a population 5 times greater than the United Kingdom’s, 9 times greater than Canada’s, 14 times greater than Australia’s and 72 times greater than New Zealand’s. Even if we only take 36% of the USA’s population (the number of Americans who own valid passports) and unreasonably presume that the other 64% will never apply for a passport, that still leaves a population of nearly 116 million people eligible to travel under free movement; almost the entire population of the CANZUK area.

Economically speaking, the risks of overpopulating a free movement area can be substantial, especially for smaller countries such as New Zealand. One of the detriments to free movement within the European Union is the concept of allowing over 508 million citizens to move freely, thereby permitting citizens to relocate without consideration of migrant influx vs. infrastructure.

For example, in 2015, the United Kingdom saw a net population increase of 184,000 people from the EU, as the UK economy was considerably stronger and more prosperous compared to other EU nations. As with all significant migrant influxes, this placed undue pressure on hospitals, schools, social security and regional employment within the UK, but if such migration flows were to occur from a highly populated nation like the USA, this could be devastating for smaller populations within the CANZUK area.

Even if just 1% of the American population decided to emigrate throughout the CANZUK area, this would equate to over 3.2 million US citizens. If said citizens were divided throughout the CANZUK area equally, that would involve over 800,000 US citizens residing in each of the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, which would no doubt place increased demand on services and infrastructure within these nations. The levels of migrant influx vs. infrastructure would not be compatible, and the free movement initiative would fail.

But population aside, the US may also have an additional problem which would prevent its unification with the CANZUK nations; history.

Downtown San Francisco (photo: Sir Francis Drake Hotel)
Similarly to Ireland’s resistance in re-joining the Commonwealth (and potentially benefiting from free movement with the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada), signing up to free movement within the CANZUK area may not be democratically supported throughout the USA. Let’s not forget that the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada each have Queen Elizabeth II as their Head of State, and considering the USA’s colonial past and proud revolutionary history against the British monarchy, any move towards unifying the USA under a “Commonwealth” freedom of movement objective could be seen by many nationalists as resorting to diplomacy “in the Queen’s name”.

At the expense of gaining benefits from free movement, would the USA be willing to reform immigration policy in conjunction with 4 Commonwealth countries, all of whom acknowledge the Queen as Head of State, and recognise that our Commonwealth ties strengthen our ability to achieve free movement? Some would be willing to leave the negatives of colonialism in the past, and promote the US passport as one to greatly benefit from free movement with the CANZUK countries. Others however, would not be so eager, and would rather distance themselves from any notion of monarchy, the United Kingdom, and indeed, the Commonwealth run by an English Queen.

It therefore seems a long shot for the United States to join a CANZUK free movement deal. Even if the US Congress were to promote its aims and attain the backing of over 321 million citizens, those citizens alone would cause significant problems for the CANZUK countries, simply because of their numbers. For a freedom of movement initiative to work, it is imperative for population numbers to be limited, otherwise economic consequences can (and will) occur.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Granted, free movement between the CANZUK nations and the USA is not a pursuit that makes economic sense, but mutual cooperation on the international stage certainly does. With the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada united under a free movement initiative, a foundation of a “super-economy” is created, capable of undertaking trade and diplomatic relations with a super-power such as that of the United States. Both entities would be able to work together for increased prosperity, increased qualities of life and increased international trade, all while working harmoniously as long standing allies and politically progressive nations.

The future may not hold free movement for the USA, but by introducing free movement between the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, there is no reason why the USA’s future cannot be prosperous by working with a CANZUK union.

James Skinner
C.F.M.O Founder & Executive Director
Vancouver, Canada


The World Economic Forum has revealed that the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand place within the top 16% of globally competitive economies for 2016-2017.

CANZUK economies are highly competitive for 2016
(photo: Bloomberg News)
The report, labelled as the "Global Competitiveness Index", assesses the economic competitiveness of 138 economies around the world. According to the WEF website, this implies its ability to:

"...assess the ability of countries to provide high levels of prosperity to their citizens. This in turn depends on how productively a country uses available resources. Therefore, the Global Competitiveness Index measures the set of institutions, policies, and factors that set the sustainable current and medium-term levels of economic prosperity."

The highest ranked CANZUK nation on the list is the United Kingdom in 7th, with New Zealand following close behind at 13th, Canada at 15th and Australia at 22nd.

As a combined economy (operating under free movement), a CANZUK union would rank 14th (average), ahead of other major economies in the world including China (28th), the European Union (41st - average) and Russia (43rd).

World Economic Forum: Global Competitiveness Index 2016-2017

The report details two important factors.

Firstly, all four CANZUK economies are highly developed in promoting economic competitiveness, meaning the introduction of free movement would be very simple in terms of compatibility. This is in addition to the CANZUK countries ranked 5th in the world for quality of life, and individually positioned within the top 10 "free economies" index for 2016.

Essentially, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand each promote economic growth, business opportunities, and high standards of health, education and social security, and therefore, combining our economies under a free movement initiative would not be detrimental to any country in terms of migration flow or straining public services.

Secondly, a combined economy under free movement would position a CANZUK union as one of the strongest economies in the world. By introducing free movement, we effectively create the foundation of a single labour market, allowing our citizens to work and study freely while our businesses recruit the best international talent (all without the cost, risk and often lengthy delays currently experienced under present immigration controls).

In effect, this would likely position us higher in the GCI index, and rank the combined CANZUK countries within the top 10 globally competitive economies.

For more information regarding our research, please contact us at

A report by the Conference Board of Canada, released on September 6th, has necessitated increasing immigration to Canada in order to support economic growth as the population ages.

Canada will be seeking future economic growth via immigration
(photo: The Sheaf)
Annual immigration will need to be raised to 407,000 by 2030, otherwise the economy could decline as demographics indicate a rapidly aging population.

At present, 16% of the Canadian population is aged 65 and over, but the ratio is expected to increase to 24% by 2030.

The aging of Canada’s population will have a significant impact on Canada’s potential economic growth. Weaker labour force growth will have a negative impact on household spending, while a more slowly expanding economy will engender less investment spending,” the report states.

Weaker economic growth over the long term will limit the amount of revenue that governments in Canada collect over the forecast period at a time when the aging of Canada’s population will require significantly more expenditures. . . Higher immigration can increase the growth of Canada’s labour force over the long term and generate higher economic growth.

While Immigration Minister John McCallum has hinted the Liberal government’s intent to increase the number of immigrants “substantially,” current immigration levels and Canada's natural population increase are projected to slow economic growth from 2% per year to 1.6% per year by 2050.

The report indicated that from 2030 to 2050, immigration growth must be raised annually to 2.1% of the population in order to improve Canada’s economic growth to 2.3% by the middle of the century.

Higher immigration and fertility rates soften the significant cost strains on the Canadian system in the long term,” the report noted. “However, over the next 25 years, Canada must also look to other solutions to address the impact of an aging population . . . Growth in the population is one level that can be part of the mix.

CFMO Comment

Canada has been weary of its aging population for some time, and being the second largest country in the world (with a population of only 36 million people), increasing migration to the country seems to be the solution.

As such, there has never been a better time for Canada to advocate free movement with Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

By introducing our proposals for free movement, Canada would have unrestricted access to Australian, New Zealand and British workers; citizens who share a similar culture, economic outlook and skills required for assimilation into the Canadian economy.

Furthermore, our research indicates that 54.4% of our supporters are aged between 21 and 34 years of age. By encouraging free movement between the CANZUK nations, Canada would receive significant numbers of individuals from Australia, New Zealand and the UK who are younger than 35, thereby resolving the need for immigration and aging population issues.

We will be reaching out to senior officials in the Canadian parliament, explaining why freedom of movement would not only be the ideal solution for Canada's aging population, but also the government's requirement for migration to assist economic growth for the future.

Watch Our Campaign Video:

Four countries, three continents, one goal for freedom of movement. Watch our campaign video and get involved today.
(For best video experience, view in High Definition - 720p HD)

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