Brexit Britain could begin new CANZUK alliance for space, trade and defence next year

China launches first three-man crew to new space station

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It follows revelations that ministers and senior civil servants invited proponents of so-called Canzuk to present evidence outlining its advantages before setting out terms of the recent Free Trade Agreement with Australia. That deal, which goes beyond trade to allow under-35s to work in both countries for five years, is being viewed as a “template” for future deals with New Zealand and Canada which are expected to be signed by the end of the year and next June respectively. A non-political union between the four nations, campaigners says, will build upon cultural similarities and  existing cooperation in the Five Eyes intelligence club to produce a geopolitical alliance of 130 million people, with a combined £3.1t GDP,

In defence terms, Britain’s cash-strapped MoD would find itself part of a fully- interoperable club with a £110bn budget – the world’s third biggest after the US and India.

And that would provide significant opportunities for investment in satellites.

“Military cooperation is one of the most important things Canzuk can do – it’s a force multiplier which allows you to pool very expensive things that first tier military powers need to have, Space is one of those:” said James Bennett, the US founder of two rocket companies and author of ‘The Anglosphere Challenge’.

“Orbits go all the way round the earth, so any developments in satellite technology would automatically serve all four countries.”

And because countries would retain complete sovereignty it would not preclude the UK from continuing its close relationship  with the US or taking advantage of membership in the £9t Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) ,to which the other three nations already belong.

“We’ve had numerous calls with the DiT and I was even asked to present on the idea of mutual skills recognition among Canzuk countries,” said James Skinner, ceo of Canzuk Intentional.

“And it seems that the DiT was listening  – the FTA goes beyond trade to include issues we’ve been campaigning on such as skills recognition, whereby professionals such as lawyers lawyers from each country can move across freely.

“But Canzuk will be an incremental, step-by-step process. Gradually, things like the  35 age limit will be extended, and it will go on to fold in other issues.”

Austrian Senator Eric Abetz said: “Once the frameworks have been worked on a bilateral basis and Australia, New Zealand and Canada have their deals with the UK, I would imagine this will add impetus to ask ourselves why we aren’t going beyond this to a quad basis.”

DiT sources agreed there was interest in pursuing Canzuk, but warned: “The sticking point with Canzuk will be lukewarm support from the Canadians and Kiwis, but it’s a nice idea.

“The New Zealand agreement is likely to be similar in shape to the Australia deal, but it’s too early to say what we’ll get with Canada”

New Zealand MP Simon O’Connor MP said: “While Canzuk isn’t yet been talked about at official levels, we know politicians and the general public like it, and that goes right across the political spectrum.

“We love our sovereignty in New Zealand. Canzuk would mean a cultural, and economic union – cooperation on those areas where we have strong commonality. Our constitutional, judicial and cultural system are very similar, and it’s a no-brainer to want more cooperation when it comes to intelligence, trade, regulations, and people-to-people engagements.”

In Canada the idea has been formally adopted by the opposition Conservaitve Party and if incumbent PM Justin Trudeau, currently leading a minority government, loses elections this year, Canada will become the first nation to formally offer it.

Last night opposition leader Erin O’Toole said: “We see this as an opportunity to bring 130 million people together to grow our prosperity and global influence in lockstep with our shared values.

Canzuk is an economic expansion of a unique link our nations already share and benefit from as intelligence-gathering allies in the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance.”

And polling shows that the idea is popular. A 2018 poll revealed   76 per cent approval in Canada,73 per cent in Australia, 82 per cent in New Zealand. Even in the UK, where resentment over leaving the EU runs high in some quarters, the figure was 68 per cent.

“Canzuk is an idea whose time has come and once the deal with Canada is signed by the middle of next year there will be a good basis for all the Canzuk countries to come together,” said Matt Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute.

“We care about what happens in each others’ countries. We’ve seen this emerge again in terms to our responses over Hong Kong.

“We saw a quick buck to be made in China and it will cost us dearly. Democracy nations offer a much more secure and better investment.”

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