Australians, Brits, New Zealanders and Canadians would support the right to live and work in each others’ countries visa-free, a poll suggests.
The survey by the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) shows large support for a free-movement zone between the four nations, with 70 per cent of Australians, 75 per cent of Canadians, 82 per cent of New Zealanders and 58 per cent of Brits in favour of the idea.
Tim Hewish, Director of Policy and Research at the RCS, said: “Collectively we possess a unique bond which needs protecting. We share a language, a legal system, and a Queen.
“This is shown most visibly on all our passports with the Queen or her representative ‘allowing the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance’.
“Free labour mobility zones offer a contemporary way to demonstrate the deep ties between our peoples and I urge governments to discuss practical ways of achieving this.”
Australia’s ABC News reports that the idea is particularly population among young Commonwealth nationals living in London.
They quote Jo McGregor, a barwoman, as saying: “Well I think if you observe history it seems only fair.
“Why should people from Australia or New Zealand have a harder time [working in Britain] than people from Europe? We’ve got the same Queen, we fought the same wars, we have the same language and similar culture.”
The Commonwealth is being increasingly seen as a credible alternative to European Union (EU) membership for Britain. Australia, Canada and New Zealand all have historic cultural ties to the UK and share Queen Elizabeth as head of state.
Last month, former New Zealand foreign minister Winston Peters welcomed the prospect of Britain leaving the EU, saying it was a great opportunity to strengthen ties with his country.
“While ‘Brexit’ is an opportunity for not just New Zealand businesses, product and people, it is an excellent opportunity to heal a rift dating back to 1973 [when Britain joined the then-European Economic Community],” he said.
He added that his New Zealand First party “believes our oldest and most successful trade agreement with Australia, CER (Closer Economic Relations), provides the ideal template for Closer Commonwealth Economic Relations, or CCER”.
It was also reported this weekend that the Queen herself favours ties with the Commonwealth over the European Union. After their story last week claiming the Queen backs Brexit, The Sun newspaper pointed to an article on the government website that says how the Queen prefers the Commonwealth.
An article by historian D.R. Thorpe on the government’s official website says the Queen had a fraught relationship with Edward Heath, the Prime Minister who first took Britain into the European Economic Community.
“European integration was Heath’s vision,” the article says. “The Queen, however, saw her role as Head of the Commonwealth to be of supreme importance.”