In order to head off what could be a very ugly revolt, cheerleaders for alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson have been floating a rather different form of free movement. But, as so often with the right-wing press, it is not just what they choose to tell their readers, but what they choose to leave out, that is key.
First out of the blocks with this slice of hokum was the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, telling readers “Australians call for freedom of movement as part of post-Brexit trade deal … Agreement could be stepping stone to 'Canzuk Union' between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and UK”. And it also could not.
The Tel is nowadays heavily paywalled, but the Murdoch Sun has enterprisingly lifted the story (see how that works, Fred and David?) to let us know “BRITAIN and Australia could bring in a freedom of movement deal between the two countries as part of a post-Brexit trade agreement. Australian MPs are calling for ‘generous provisions’ to allow Brits and Australians to freely live and work in both nations”. How many MPs would that be?
Er, just one. “In a report called ‘A Ripper Deal’, Liberal Party Senator James Paterson wrote that the two countries are ‘bound by deep and historical ties’. Mr Paterson said that rules should be relaxed allowing citizens of Australia and Britain free access to each other's nations - in an arrangement which could be a stepping stone for similar deals with Canada and New Zealand”. James Paterson? Is he related to Sir Les?
"The Sydney Opera House. Looks like a drowning nun"
But do go on. “Mr Paterson wrote: ‘This should require minimal regulatory compliance and be simpler to get than the standard work visas in each country.’ He also wrote that a freedom of movement deal could be the first step to a 'Commonwealth' union. ‘In the long term, a free-trade, free-movement block consisting of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK is an attractive idea in a dangerous world,’” So who is James Paterson?
Apart from being appointed to his Senate seat - rather than elected - Paterson has served as deputy executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs. The IPA is roughly equivalent to UK Astroturf lobby groups like the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance. The idea of a “Canzuk Union” is his pet project. The Sun article does not name another Australian politician who has backed Paterson’s idea. But the Murdoch press likes the IPA.
But this is total crap. What the Tel and Sun are dangling before soon-to-be-disgruntled Brexiteers is the prospect of a mainly white and English speaking free movement area - an idea which assumes New Zealand and Canada will back it. Which they may not.
Thus another Ron Hopeful ending for the Brexit faithful is exposed as a sham. One of these days, they’ll discover they’ve been had. That story may not have a happy ending.
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