Back in June of 2017, the Daily Globe and CRCC cheered the proposal of a group of Conservative MPs to introduce a special passport area with Commonwealth nations. We backed the plan because it was an important step to laying the groundwork for a Special Passport Area with the great goal of CANZUK Free Movement. Though greater CANZUK, Commonwealth, and Realms integration remains as aspiration, we fully welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that CANZ (along with the US and Japan) citizens will be able to enter the UK through E-Passport gates. This move will make it significantly easier for Canadian, Australian, and New Zealander citizens to travel to the United Kingdom – expanding the ties of cooperation of CANZUK as well as benefiting commerce between the nations.
Initiatives like this are exactly what Britain needs as it exits the EU. The UK needs to say to the world that it is truly a global nation – no longer under the yoke of the EU- that is strengthening bonds with friends old and new in the Commonwealth and beyond. The UK needs to seize the moment of Brexit to pursue trade deals with Commonwealth allies and other fast growing economies and no longer be disproportionately bound to the economically sluggish EU.
Unfortunately, as we on this site have said many times before, the Prime Minister’s Chequers proposals do not take advantage of the opportunity to build a Global Britain. Instead it accepts the idea of making Britain a continued rule taker on goods and agriculture. Plans to indefinitely keep the UK in the Customs Union are even worse than Chequers. Even at this late hour in the negotiations though, a bad deal is not inevitable. The UK could break the gridlock by offering the A + (Super Canada) deal the IEA and ERG proposed and that the EU has said it is willing to accept. It could, as Boris Johnson has argued, use the “transition period” to iron out any supposed issues with the Northern Ireland border. Brexit is too big an opportunity to be wasted on the smaller, eurocentric thinking being put forward by Olly Robbins and other Whitehall mandarins.
Writing in last week’s Spectator, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott went even farther than the ERG or Boris and proposed going Global the moment Brexit happens. In a five point plan, Mr. Abbott calls for no transition, no Irish back stop, and going independent trading on WTO rules that govern trade for the vast majority of the world. From there, the UK can strike trade deals at its own discretion with as many nations as it likes. Using his perspective having governed the world’s most successful economy, he concludes: “Britain has nothing to lose except the shackles that the EU imposes on it. After the courage shown by its citizens in the referendum, it would be a tragedy if political leaders go wobbly now. Britain’s future has always been global, rather than just with Europe. Like so many of Britain’s admirers, I want to see this great country seize this chance and make the most of it.”
Sometimes, it takes an old friend to lead you in the right direction. The E-Passport lanes are a welcome first step for Global Britain. But it must go further. Treat the EU liken any other nation. There’s a big world out there waiting for Britain to join it – go global.