As Johnson burns bridges with the European Union, liberals must coalesce around an economic alliance with Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. These four countries are in ways very far apart. But despite geographical distance, they share a language, a history and an ideological agenda: that of free trade, equality and human rights. In other words, these countries have similar values, interests and ideas about how the world should work. The concept of an alliance co-ordinating commerce and foreign policy has overt endorsement within the Conservative Party of Canada, and tacit support from the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and Australia. As Boris Johnson burns bridges with the European Union, liberals must coalesce around an economic alliance. CANZUK.
The fundamental benefit of the European Union’s free trade was that it allowed British goods a larger market, to the point where commodities had a large enough internal market that, irrespective of trade conflicts and tariffs, British industry retained a level of stability. Equally, we were able to secure favourable trade deals by bargaining as a collective. However, Britain is leaving the European Union and regardless of your position on that, it seems foolish to expect that relationship to continue. A free trade zone between CANZUK would provide a similar consumer base for all involved countries and in fact make their markets more competitive. The EU faced problems in this regard, as the countries had such different economic capabilities that business was forced out of less economically developed countries with the capital of countries such as Germany, France and the UK holding smaller countries hostage. The Greek financial crisis proved this point: though all economies were equal, some were more equal than others. In a theoretical CANZUK, whose economies all fall in the top 25 globally for GDP per Capita, this would be a much less pronounced problem. The similar economies would thrive with this expanded consumer base, providing much of the economic benefit of the EU with none of the associated problems.
If America's brief period of experimentation with Donald Trump has proved anything, it is that the current power dynamic in the free world is untenable. The European Union, partly due to Brexit, provided nothing of substance as an alternative to his protectionist trade barriers and chaotic foreign policy. The EU is not an effective counterweight to American influence in NATO and the G7. Though they wield massive economic capital, they are unable to project real power into the pacific. As this region only continues to grow in importance to the world’s economy and prosperity, an alliance of nations with maritime capabilities in both the Atlantic and Pacific, aligned with but independent of the United States will become only more necessary.
Canada, New Zealand and Australia have similar voting patterns to the UK in the UN, and similar political values. CANZUK healthcare systems consistently rank highly in international rankings, as do their productivity and GDP per capita. The simple fact is that our history, and shared monarch, make cooperation more achievable than geographical distance might imply.
For Britain, a strategic partnership between these peoples so deeply linked is not only sensible, but essential for continued prosperity outside the European Union.