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A map highlighting CANZUK and its dependencies.   CANZUK   Dependencies of CANZUK countries
A map highlighting CANZUK and its dependencies.
  Dependencies of CANZUK countries
TypePersonal Union (current status)
Proposed international organization/common market area
  •  Australia
  •  Canada
  •  New Zealand
  •  United Kingdom
• Total
18,187,210 km2 (7,022,120 sq mi)
• Water (%)
• 2017/2018 estimate
• Density
7.2/km2 (18.6/sq mi)
GDP (nominal)2018 estimate
• Total
$6.456 trillion
• Per capita

CANZUK refers to the personal union and the proposal for increased ties between the nations of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. These include increased trade, foreign policy co-operation and mobility of citizens between the four nations. The idea is supported by various organisations and think tanks, such as CANZUK International and politicians from the four countries.


The term CANZUK was first coined by the author William David McIntyre in his 1967 book Colonies Into Commonwealth in the context of a "CANZUK Union", as an acronym for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.[1] More recently, the term has been adopted by the pressure group CANZUK International, formerly the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation.[2] In the wake of the 2016 UK European Union membership referendum and the decision made by the UK to leave the European Union, writers such as Andrew Lilico and James C. Bennett, along with academics such as the historian Andrew Roberts have advocated that Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom merge and form a new entity in international politics.[3][4] Andrew Roberts suggested that such a bloc could slot into the international order as a third pillar of the west (alongside the United States and the European Union). Beyond this, Roberts argues that due to its territorial scale, geographic scope and advanced economy that it would qualify as a "great power" and potentially a "global power" (or emerging superpower).[5]

Some advocates such as Roberts favour a federal or confederal union. Others, such as Lilico describe the objective as being the creation of a "geopolitical partnership" akin to the European Economic Community.[6] In the version favoured by Lilico, by the advocacy group CANZUK international and by the Canadian Conservative Party, the proposal would involve the creation of a free-movement zone, a multilateral free trade agreement and a security partnership. The more general concept of deepening trade ties (with or without a multilateral agreement) has many advocates, including figures such as former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott,[7] Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau[8] and British Prime Minister Theresa May.[9] Other supporters of easier immigration have included Boris Johnson who has made that case for some years.[10]

Origins and relationship[edit]

A world map showing the distribution of people by self-reported British ancestral or ethnic diaspora.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand are former colonies of the British Empire where people of British ethnic origin came to constitute the majority of the population.[11] Today, the four CANZUK countries maintain a close affinity of cultural, diplomatic and military ties to one another as a result of this. Outside of the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories, the largest proportions of people of self-identified ethnic British descent in the world are found in New Zealand (58%),[12] Australia (45%)[13] and Canada (32%),[14] followed by a considerably smaller minority in the United States (12%)[15] and parts of the Caribbean. In homage to this, the Australian and New Zealand flags contain the flag of the United Kingdom in their canton, and the UK flag is one of two official flags of Canada.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are also Commonwealth countries which share Elizabeth II as constitutional monarch and head of state. The countries share a number of institutional, linguistic and religious similarities such as the use of the Westminster parliamentary system of government, Common Law, British English terminology and the adoption of secular Christian values.[16] The CANZUK countries form part of the English-speaking world and share a number of Anglosphere military initiatives with each other including Five Eyes intelligence, ABCANZ Armies and AUSCANNZUKUS, which are concerned with increased military and naval cooperation. Canada and the United Kingdom are allied through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation while Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are allied through the Five Power Defence Arrangements.

Public relations are extremely warm between the four countries, with consistent evidence that people in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom regard each other's countries as their country's closest friends and allies in the world.[17][18][19][20]


Below is a table comparing the CANZUK countries. Data is for 2017.

Country Population[21] Land area (km2)[22] Land area (sq mi) PPP GDP

(billions USD)[23]

PPP GDP per capita


National Wealth

(billions USD)[24]

National Wealth

per capita (USD)

Human Development

Index (2018)[25]

 United Kingdom 66,181,585 241,930 93,410 $2,880.254 $43,520 $14,073 $212,642 0.920 (very high)
 Canada 36,624,199 9,993,510 3,858,520 $1,763.785 $48,159 $7,407 $202,243 0.926 (very high)
 Australia 24,450,561 7,682,300 2,966,200 $1,235.297 $50,522 $7,329 $299,748 0.939 (very high)
 New Zealand 4,825,170 263,310 101,660 $185.748 $38,496 $1,162 $240,821 0.917 (very high)
Total 132,081,515 18,181,050 10,737,947 $6065.084 $45,919 $29,971 $226,913 0.925 (very high)
Total as % of World 1.7% 7% 7% 4.8% 10.7%


Several organisations have been set up that promote, to varying degrees, much closer associations between the CANZUK nations. CANZUK International has, as its stated aim, the desire to establish an area of freedom of movement akin to that which existed before the European Communities Act 1972, or as a mirror to the rights of free movement as seen within the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.[26] Other organisations are largely voluntary groupings of those who advocate the more specific idea of transnational union, such as "CANZUK Uniting".[27]


In August 2017, Liberal Senator for Victoria, James Paterson, published an opinion-piece in the Australian Financial Review declaring support for CANZUK free trade and free movement, stating "With Australia, New Zealand, and Canada all lining up to sign post-Brexit trade agreements with the UK, we have an opportunity to push for a wide-ranging agreement between all four Commonwealth nations...It's an idea whose time has come."[28]


In February 2017, Canadian Member of Parliament Erin O'Toole adopted CANZUK free trade and free movement as part of his campaign platform for leader of the Canadian Conservative Party.[29] In a campaign video with Skinner filmed in Vancouver, O'Toole described the CANZUK initiative as "a no brainer", stating that Canada already offers free trade and free mobility with citizens of the United States, and should therefore offer such benefits to "our other closest allies".[30]

In March 2017, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada Andrew Scheer stated his support for a CANZUK free trade deal at a leadership debate in Vancouver, British Columbia. Scheer stated: "I very much support a trade deal with those countries. Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have a similar basis of law, they have a common democratic system, they have the same types of legislation and regulations around investment and trade. Those are the types of things we don't enjoy with China".[31][better source needed]

On 18 May 2017, Canadian member of parliament Michael Chong declared support for post-Brexit free movement between the CANZUK countries, saying it was "a good idea to explore a new trade deal with Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, particularly in light of the Brexit vote".[32]

The main opposition party of Canada, the Conservative Party, adopted CANZUK as official party policy at their 2018 party convention by 215 votes to 7.[33][34]

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand, ACT New Zealand has expressed support for a "free-movement zone", with leader David Seymour stating, "Successful nations like Britain and New Zealand shouldn't be putting up walls and shutting off from each other when it's the exchange of ideas that has made our nations so prosperous. Brexit provides new options as Britain pivots away from European immigration. Let's approach Britain with a proposal for a two-way free movement agreement".[35]

In April 2018 Simon Bridges MP, Opposition leader in New Zealand, announced his support for CANZUK.[36]

United Kingdom[edit]

In November 2014, then Mayor of London Boris Johnson expressed support for establishing "mobility zones" between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, stating "The UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand share the same head of state, the same language and the same common-law legal system. Critically, they are all highly economically developed democracies and there is also a distinct common culture and familial bond between them".[37]

Contrary views[edit]

Although the UK is in the process of leaving the EU, trade agreements between the UK and other CANZUK countries are not legally credible until the UK's departure.[38]

Critics such as Nick Cohen have suggested that CANZUK is a 'fantasy' and that the project would not make sense as a geopolitical construct in the 21st Century, here he emphasises the gradual separation that has occurred between each of the states in both legal and political culture since the end of the British Empire.[39] It has been argued that geographical separation limits the value of any such union, in keeping with the mainstream economic opinion that considers the 'distance and the size of trading partners matter more than historical links in determining trading relationships between countries'.[40]

An editorial in Canada's The Globe and Mail, which described CANZUK as "a silly name", pointed out that those Commonwealth countries with which advocates of Brexit were most enamoured were "ex-Dominions where white people predominate", and that even if it were broadened to include populous countries like Nigeria and India, the group had "nowhere near the latent appetite for trade with Britain that would make the scheme credible".[41] In an article published in the New York Times in April 2018, historian Alex von Tunzelmann stated that "no doubt, the advocates of reviving Britain’s links with Canada, Australia and New Zealand can cite myriad reasons that have nothing to do with racism to explain why South Africa, India, Pakistan or the Caribbean nations are just different. Still, majority-nonwhite nations will notice if they are treated as them rather than us, because this will not be the first time that has happened."[42]

In academia, Duncan Bell criticises contemporary 'Anglospheric discourse' and concludes that modern political commentary is 'a pale imitation of previous iterations' lacking broad spectrum support across the political left-right dichotomy.[43]

Public opinion[edit]


Public opinion polling conducted by YouGov in 2015 found that 58% of British people would support freedom of movement and work between the citizens of the United Kingdom and the citizens of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with 19% opposed to the idea and 23% undecided, with support for the proposals in all four countries of the United Kingdom.[44] The research also found that British people valued free mobility between the UK and Canada, Australia and New Zealand more than they valued free mobility between the UK and EU at 46% to 35%.[45]


Opinion poll surveys commissioned by the Royal Commonwealth Society in 2016 found that 70% of Australians said they were supportive of the proposal, with 10% opposed to it; 75% of Canadians said they supported the idea and 15% were opposed to it and 82% of New Zealanders stated that they supported the idea, with 10% opposed.[45] All of the respective provinces, states and territories of Canada, Australia and New Zealand registered majority support for the proposals.[45]


Further polling of 2,000 people conducted in January 2017 found support for free movement of people and goods with certain limitations on citizens claiming tax-funded payments on entry across the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to be 64% in the UK, 72% in Australia, 77% in Canada and 81% in New Zealand, with undecideds included.[46][47]


Opinion polling of 13,600 respondents from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom conducted between January and March 2018 found increased support for reciprocal free trade and movement between the countries when compared to 2017, with support at 68% in the UK (up 4%); 73% in Australia (up 1%); 76% in Canada (down 1%) and 82% in New Zealand (up 1%).[48] The opinion polling indicated greater support for the proposals in the North and South Islands of New Zealand at 83% and 81% support respectively; British Columbia and Ontario in Canada at 82% and 80% support respectively; and New South Wales and Victoria in Australia at 79% support each, while lesser support was observed in the province of Quebec in Canada at 63% support; Northern Ireland and Scotland in the UK at 64% and 66% support respectively; and Western Australia at 65% support.[49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Colonies Into Commonwealth, William David McIntyre, Walker, 1967, page 375
  2. ^ "Push for free movement of Canadians, Kiwis, Britons and Australians gains momentum". Global News. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  3. ^ Andrew Lilico (7 August 2016). "From Brexit to CANZUK: A call from Britain to team up with Canada, Australia and New Zealand". Financial Post. London. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  4. ^ James C. Bennett (2016). A Time for Audacity: New Options Beyond Europe. Pole to Pole Publishing. ASIN: B01H4U7FAQ. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  5. ^ Andrew Roberts (13 September 2016). "CANZUK: After Brexit, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain can unite as a pillar of Western civilisation". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  6. ^ "CANZUK Uniting". CANZUK Uniting.
  7. ^ Gareth Hutchens. "Tony Abbott says Australia should strike shotgun trade deal with post-Brexit UK"(October 2016). The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  8. ^ BBC News. "Justin Trudeau wants 'seamless' UK trade deal after Brexit"(18 April 2018)
  9. ^ BBC News. "New Zealand happy to forget the UK's 'betrayal'"(24 May 2018)
  10. ^ Guy Bentley. "Boris Johnson welcomes report calling for more Commonwealth immigration" (November 2014). City AM. London. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  11. ^ Marshall 2001, p. 254.
  12. ^ Statistics New Zealand (4 February 2009), QuickStats About Culture and Identity,, archived from the original on 19 February 2008, retrieved 18 May 2009
  13. ^ The Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2011 showed that 7,238,500 Australians reported having English ancestry, and 1,792,600 reported having Scottish ancestry. The most commonly reported ancestry was English (36.1% of the population). Scottish ancestry was reported by 8.3% of the population. See:
    Australian Bureau of Statistics (21 June 2012), Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012–2013,, retrieved 1 May 2014 In 2006, 63% of the population had reported British ancestry. See: Mansouri, Fethi, and Michele Lobo, Migration, Citizenship, and Intercultural Relations: Looking Through the Lens of Social Inclusion. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2011, p.30
  14. ^ Statistics Canada reported in 2016 that 6,320,085 Canadians identified themselves as having English ancestry, 4,799,005 Scottish, 474,805 Welsh and 644,695 from the British Isles (other). A total of 11,211,850 claimed British Isles origins. See:
    Statistics Canada (2016), Canada 2016 Census,, retrieved 11 July 2018 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ See: British American – The United States American Community Survey reported in 2009 that 40,234,652 Americans identified themselves as having English, Scottish, Welsh and Ulster-Scottish ancestry. 1,172,050 reported to have British ancestry. 2009 American Community Survey. Archived 19 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "Canada-US Relations Tracking". Nanos Research. 2018.
  18. ^ "Poll". Lowy Institute. 2018.
  19. ^ "Poll: Who's New Zealand's best friend?". 22 June 2017 – via
  20. ^ "From the Outside In: G20 views of the UK before and after the EU referendum'" (PDF). British Council.
  21. ^ "World Population Prospects - Population Division - United Nations". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  22. ^ "Land area (sq. km) | Data". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  23. ^ "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  24. ^ "Global Wealth Report 2017 Databook". Credit Suisse.
  25. ^ (PDF) Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. ^ CANZUK International. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  27. ^ CANZUK Uniting. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  28. ^ "Let's fold UK and Canada into the Closer Economic Relations treaty". Senator James Paterson. 2017-08-28. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  29. ^ "Erin O'Toole campaign website – "CANZUK"".
  30. ^ Erin O'Toole for Leader/pour chef (1969-12-31), James Skinner and Erin O'Toole on CANZUK, retrieved 2018-05-28
  31. ^ "Pro-CANZUK Politician Elected As Federal Party Leader". CANZUK International. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  32. ^ Mowat, Laura (2017-05-18). "Visa-free movement across UK, Canada, Australia and NZ? Campaign boost as 200,000 sign up". Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  33. ^
  34. ^ Bateman, Sophie (2018-08-28). "Canada Conservatives vote for free movement, trade with New Zealand". Newshub. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  35. ^ ACT New Zealand (October 2016). "ACT proposes free movement with Britain, Oz and Canada". Scoop News. Auckland. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  36. ^ "New Zealand Opposition Leader Backs CANZUK International's Campaign". CANZUK International.
  37. ^ "London mayor to make it easier for Aussies to live and work in Britain". Mail Online. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  38. ^ "Reality Check: Does Britain have to leave the EU before it makes a trade deal?" (July 2016). BBC News. London. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  39. ^ Nick Cohen (12 April 2016). "It’s a Eurosceptic fantasy that the ‘Anglosphere’ wants Brexit". The Spectator. London. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  40. ^ Chris Giles. "UK trade deal far from top priority for Canada" (November 2016). Financial Times. London. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  41. ^ With Brexit looming, Britain suddenly remembers the Commonwealth,The Globe and Mail, April 20, 2018
  42. ^ Alex von Tunzelmann The Empire Haunts Britain
  43. ^ Duncan Bell (2016). 'The Project for a New Anglospheric Century' in Reordering the World: Essays on Liberalism and Empire. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13878-7. Retrieved 24 November 2016. 206-207.
  44. ^ "YouGov | Freedom of movement within Commonwealth more popular than within EU". YouGov: What the world thinks. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  45. ^ a b c "UK public strongly backs freedom to live and work in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand" (PDF).
  46. ^ "Survey Reveals Support For CANZUK Free Movement". CANZUK International. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  47. ^ Kilcoyne, Matt (16 April 2018). "Our CANZUK friends should be welcome in post-Brexit Britain".
  48. ^ "Latest Poll Shows Significant Public Support For CANZUK Free Movement". CANZUK International.
  49. ^ "CANZUK International – "National and Regional Polling Results - April 2018"" (PDF).