When Britain voted to leave the European Union on 23rd June 2016, many people feared it would mean Britain would become an inward and backward looking country whereby leaving the European Union would encourage a little Englander mentality who are suspicious of foreigners and where ambition and sights are lowered in favour of old-fashioned traditional values and an emphasis is placed upon the local, as opposed to the international community.
Advocates of remaining within the European Union have long argued that Britain has a greater voice, more influence and wider opportunities when it is part of a union of countries providing free movement of people to work and travel. I agree with this concept; as an internationally minded person who has both studied and worked abroad, these arguments are ones I firmly support and defend. However, does the vote to leave the European Union mean Britain has no choice but to abandon this concept?
The concerns of uncontrolled immigration in respect of crime and additional pressure on public services is certainly not confined to the United Kingdom. Whether you are a citizen of the United States of America, the United Kingdom or Australia, the argument that immigration is out of control has been prevalent in recent political campaigns. I witnessed this personally whilst living in Australia during 2013, where the mainstream media focused on failures of the Australian points based system (often seen as a golden bullet solution to immigration within the United Kingdom). The ‘turn back the boats’ policy presented by Tony Abbott in 2013 was initially seen as a xenophobic and racist policy by some and by others as a sensible solution to Australian immigration and migrant overcrowding (a country with a land mass far bigger than the whole of continental Europe and the UK combined).
I believe progressive, forwarding thinking politicians who have the courage and strength to think outside the box, should present a post Brexit, forward-looking future for the United Kingdom which could unite both leave and remain supporters. There is indeed at least one solution which embraces the now controversial concept of free movement of people, which can avoid factious fears of crimes perpetrated by a minority of new arrivals as well as reduce costs of supporting migrants who are incapable of paying their own way.
The Five Eyes intelligence alliance (also known as FVEY) is nothing new but seemingly less well-known that other intergovernmental agreements. Its origins date back to before the end of World War II (1941) and it is an intelligence sharing alliance between five allied nations, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. It has the trust of America’s FBI, NSA and CIA, of Britain’s GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 and key security services from Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Five Eyes has been useful ever since its creation and was a communications monitoring tool especially during both the Cold War and more recently the war on terror. It is an alliance which has the primary goal of security gathering and sharing confidential security information upon both external and internal threats from within FVEY nations.
Therefore, why shouldn’t the FVEY alliance be recognised and developed to provide security from terror or other crimes, as well as provide barrier free trade and greater economic prosperity between ‘safe states’ based upon strict intelligence sharing?
By endorsing FVEY principals and a new age of free movement of people, some may proclaim it would be tantamount to an Anglophile outlook on the world. Whilst I believe this is untrue and misses the point, these are also often the same people who complain that Brexit means Britain will become a more inward-looking, isolationist nation – they can’t have it both ways. When Britain leaves the European Union, it is necessary to examine alternative concepts so it can remain an open and strong voice on the world stage.
All of the five FVEY nations are known for being amongst the most multicultural and tolerant nations in the world. It is said that more languages are spoken on the streets of London than any other city on the planet, Australia is known as one of the most multi-cultural nations in the world (joint second ranked by AMP in 2010), and the United States, United Kingdom and Canada consistently come out as amongst the most racially tolerant nations in the world in surveys – stark contrast to France, Italy and several other European neighbours.
Perhaps the most attractive aspect of the FVEY alliance is that it is not run by politicians who may have their own political agenda. Instead it is grounded upon sound security standards set by the most trusted intelligence services that have ever existed. This means nations can aspire to join the alliance provided they adequately invest in security and meet strict standards set by intelligence services and not politicians. Nations who could meet such a high standard shall boast an advanced economy, therefore its citizens are likely to be economically self-dependant and unlikely to absorb public funds, therefore it’s not just security concerns that will be diminished by embracing the FVEY zone.
Given the challenges many nations face, perhaps it’s time to evolve FVEY cooperation and Britain, with its closest allies, become a pioneer of free movement of people throughout the FVEY zone and guarantee security and greater economic prosperity.
Ashley Bullard is a solicitor who has practised within the U.K. And abroad. He is the founder of United Politics and a Conservative Party activist.
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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty