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Oceans apart together

Sharing similarities like language, culture, history, democracies, and liberalised economies, could Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK be a rival to the EU in tomorrow’s world? Abi Millar looks at the arguments for and against.

On 23 June 2016 – a date that stirs very different emotions in different people – the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. This verdict, delivered on the narrowest of margins, would lead to four years of political wrangling before the exit finally came into force.

As of 31 January 2020, the UK is no longer a member of the EU. Standing alone on the world stage, it must begin to negotiate new trading relationships and redraw the map of its allegiances. This, say proponents of the idea, is the perfect time for a new trade alliance that would meld four English-speaking economies: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

CANZUK, as the hypothetical bloc is known, was first proposed as early as the 1950s, but has been revived in light of Brexit. It would cover more than 136 million people and, according to neoconservative think-tank The Henry Jackson Society, would spawn ‘the second-most-powerful geopolitical union in the world behind the EU, and quite possibly the fourth-largest economic union behind China’.

Supporters say that CANZUK would boost economic prosperity, while creating new travel and employment opportunities between the four countries. Detractors argue that the idea is unworkable and that the purported links between these far-flung countries aren’t enough. So how tenable is CANZUK really and what are the underpinnings of the idea?

Read the rest of this article in the June-August 2021 edition of Overseas magazine

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