As Britain explores its options in a post-Brexit world, some are proposing a closer association with three of its wealthiest, English-speaking Commonwealth partners – to create a powerful political and economic bloc. A loose alliance with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – or CANZUK – would also create the ‘third largest military’ in the world.
This proposal has been around since 2015 but may be gaining new steam today.
As reported by Express.co.uk, “Toronto based James Skinner is the founder and chief executive of CANZUK International, a group launched under a different name in 2015.” Under the proposal Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand would agree to free trade and reciprocal migration. The four allied powers would also cooperate more closely in foreign policy and defense.
This new association, according to Skinner, “would immediately become the third most powerful military force in the world, behind only the United States and China.”
This idea may not be far-fetched. The UK is already a close ally of Australia, Canada and New Zealand and their militaries regularly cooperate. As noted by Express, the UK has worked closely with Australia and Canada over the crisis in Hong Kong with the three powers issuing joint statements.
The combined defense spending of these four countries would likely top US $110 billion which would make the bloc the third largest in the world. As Skinner notes, this would provide “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.”
Adding to its plausibility, a CANZUK International poll “found free movement between the four countries has the support of 82 percent of New Zealanders, 76 percent of Canadians, 73 percent of Australians and 68 percent of Britons.” The proposal, reports Express, has been endorsed by Erin O’Toole, the Canadian opposition leader, and is part of the official platform of the Conservative Party of Canada.
With an increasingly dangerous world, this proposal could provide post-Brexit Britain a solid answer to the question of what role to play on the global stage. For the United States, having a strong CANZUK bloc as a powerful ally would also provide immense strategic value, especially against a hostile, expansionist China in the Pacific.
As with the U.S., Britain may want to consider a new system of coalitions and alliances that better reflect the 21st century threats, needs and priorities of the world’s top democracies.