“Let the Circumstances of Language; Religion and Blood have their Natural and Full Effect.” – John Adams, 2nd President of the United States
The United States and the United Kingdom share a common history, culture, and tongue. To this day, the veins of 39 million Americans are estimated to flow with English, Welsh, and Scottish blood. That’s 12 percent of the population, and serves as the 3rd largest ethnic group in the nation. If you add the 36 million Irish descendants to that list, you have the single largest ethnic group in the United States. Sadly, however, despite being a former colony, strategic ally, trade partner and cultural influencer, it’s extremely difficult for U.S. citizens to live and work in Britain. And vice versa!
The famous “special relationship” that pundits and public officials so often talk about primarily manifests only in the political. One of the most buzz-worthy discussions every time Downing Street or Pennsylvania Avenue gets an incoming executive is how the “special relationship” between the two countries will fare. It’s so sacrosanct that Christopher Hitchens once wrote, “British diplomats and Anglo-American types in Washington have a near-superstitious prohibition on uttering the words ‘Special Relationship’ to describe relations between Britain and America, lest the specialness itself vanish like a phantom at cock-crow.”
However, it shouldn’t just be a relationship that only the political elite benefit from. The specialness lies in the social, cultural and ancestral connection that binds the people of both countries together. As Nigel Farage once said, “Normally, when New York catches a cold, London sneezes.” The same is true for the countries at large.
Even after the bloodiest dispute in Anglo-American relations, the Revolutionary War, these two nations were quick to regroup. On June 2nd, 1785–just two years after Britain lost its Colonies–Adams wrote to the Secretary of State, John Jay, saying, “I will be very frank with you. I was the last to consent to the Separation, but the Separation having been made and having become inevitable, I have always said let the Circumstances of Language; Religion and Blood have their natural and full Effect.” Despite an arduous war, Adams accepted the position as America’s first Ambassador to Britain. Even more surprisingly King George III welcomed him to London, even if begrudgingly.
In the post-Brexit world, now more than ever, the British government ought to be utilizing the global relationship with its former colonies. The Queen herself always envisioned a robust and strong Commonwealth after the inevitable collapse of the Empire in the early Twentieth Century. However, the U.K.’s Carrollian venture into the European Union forced it to adopt trade and immigration policies that were European in world view. For example, Britain was unable to expedite a free-trade agreement with India for years, thanks to regulations from Brussels. The absurdity being that it’s not only the former “Crown Jewel” of the British Empire but it’s also a Commonwealth nation in actuality. Why wouldn’t Britain be able to develop its own treaty with India?
Luckily for Americans and British alike, the Brits are moving away from the failing European Project. Now England is once again free to reshape its relations with the world. Although Prime Minister Theresa ‘Maimed’ May has been slow and limp in her approach, Britain will hopefully soon get leadership that will take full advantage of its special relationship with America by increasing trade, investment, and most importantly, the flow of people.
That’s not to say the flood gates should be open between the U.S. and U.K. or that Americans should be able to just move to and fro. That’s exactly the issue with the European Union. Opening Britain’s labor market to 323 million Americans is reckless at best. Britain has a population one-fifth of the U.S. and is geographically only the size of Alabama. But, it should be much easier for highly-skilled nationals to live, work professionally, and build a life in each nation if they choose to do so. Working professionals and university graduates should be given special priority. Requisites for applicants ought to include a minimum savings threshold, proof of good financial standing, and an ability to pass a rigorous entrance exam which tests cultural, political, and historical knowledge.
The U.K. should even consider instituting a rigorous jus sanguinis. Like Israel’s immigration policies towards Jewish Americans, Americans with predominantly British blood ought to be given special rights to return to their ancestors’ land. That’s not to say instituting a U.K. version of Israel’s Birth Right program, where government is essentially subsidizing vacations, but Americans should have similar rights as citizens of Commonwealth nations. After all, why should a Pole have a greater right to live and work in Britain than an Anglo-blooded American? And alternatively, why should the U.S. distribute Green Cards to haphazardly to cultures vastly different than our own, when Brits can assimilate into American society more swimmingly than any other culture?
There are many ways a new Anglo-American visa program could manifest itself, but Americans and Brits should be able to more easily move between each other’s borders, as we are essentially of one nation. Making it easier for us to move freely between our countries will certainly serve to enrich our lives and our cultures, and may have a positive economic impact as well.