CANZUK International is pushing for a new proposal whereby the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand form a new military alliance.
At a time of increasing hostility from Europe, and a more isolationist United States, the UK Government is looking to old allies as part a new post-Brexit worldview.
Formed in 2015, CANZUK International (formally the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation) is a non-profit aiming to promote greater co-operation between the commonwealth nations of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (CANZUK).
According to founder James Skinner, they focus on:
- “Facilitated Migration”, an open immigration system based on the Australia and New Zealand’s current Trans-Tasmanian Travel Agreement;
- Free Trade with no customs checks or other barriers and regulatory alignment, and mutual recognition of skills and qualifications;
- Greater Foreign Policy and Defense Co-operation between members, including a new military alliance between the members;
- Constitutional Affairs, including protecting the group’s shared Head of State, values and laws surrounding greater collaboration.
CANZUK argues that such an agreement would immediately become the third most powerful military force in the world, behind only the United States and China.
Skinner said: “I believe the combined military expenditure of these countries would be in the region of about $110m which would make it the third largest in the world.
“A CANZUK military would be a significant deterrent against adversarial countries like perhaps China, Iran, North Korea both in terms of physical military capacity, but also in terms of cyber security as well.”
The organisation pointed to the situation in Hong Kong and how the UK, Australia and Canada worked closely together on the situation, issuing joint statements as an example of how the alliance could work.
CANZUK would also hold a vast amount of soft power globally, with all members holding (significant) influence over a number of international and regional groups.
These groups range from the UN Security Council, G7, the Quad and the Organisation of American States (a regional group of countries in the Americas). Some members also enjoy special relationships with other countries like the USA.
CANZUK has received a wide-scale support from the general population in all four countries, including from a number of high-profile politicians.
Its policy of free trade and free movement of people has also received a high degree of popularity in all four countries.
A survey of 13,600 people carried out by CANZUK International in 2018 showed the respective levels of support to be: Australia (73%), Canada (76%), New Zealand (82%); and the United Kingdom (68%).
The founder and advocates of CANZUK have stressed that it would not seek to replicate the EU’s model, and also not infringe upon any country’s national sovereignty.
Finally, Skinner was clear on CANZUK’s position on expansion, saying the organisation would be cautious to do so and this would take place through public referendums.
He gave the example of Singapore, stating:
“Say hypothetically 20-30 years in the future Singapore comes into perfect alignment with the CANZUK countries whereby the economic indexes are exactly the same, in terms of what’s on the statute books they align with the CANZUK countries as well. There is that consideration.
“For CANZUK to learn from that [the EU], what I would personally favour is if there was at some point to be a CANZUK plus, like with Singapore, I would favour there being a referendum in each of the CANZUK countries.”