Look to the past to find our future; It’s time to re-embrace the Commonwealth
The detriment of the asphyxiating laws and bureaucracy imposed by the European Union is known to all in the United Kingdom. Realistically, I don’t need to explain too heavily just how awful the European project has been – and continues to be – for our country. The majority in this country now realise just how corrupt and crippling the bureaucrats in Brussels have been, and around 60-70% now demand a referendum on our relationship with the continent. Luckily, us Brits have a future option that could prove to be many times more prosperous than the execrable European project; the Commonwealth.
Of course, parts of the Commonwealth have justifiably poor memories of us; we colonised them, exerted our culture and laws, and then left them to simply fight for themselves when the empire ended, with little support. Even worse, we thrust ourselves head first into the EU, turning our backs on the Commonwealth nations yet further. Supporters of Europe bellow “But Europe makes up more than half of our trade!”. Wrong. That figure is dropping, and is only around 40% nowadays – and likely to fall yet further. They are also wrong to assume that by leaving the Union, we would also lose any trade with our neighbours; Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and the like have missed out on practically no trade over the most recent decades, despite not being fully paid members of the EU. They are members of EFTA; a simple free trade agreement with Europe, but without any of the political drawbacks.
Some argue that we should indeed join EFTA. Some would even go as far as saying we should go with NAFTA (thats the North American Free Trade Agreement). But western economies are shrinking. Developing economies across the planet meanwhile; are growing. We need to re-establish stronger ties with our friends in the Commonwealth; we all share strong linguistic, cultural and historic ties, we all support progressive governmental democracy, and most importantly, we all have strong national identities that should be protected and upheld – unlike those tied into the European Union whose national sovereignty is being consistently called into question amid calls for ‘closer union’.
On the face of it, the Commonwealth is merely an excuse for an occasional mini-Olympics. Of course, that isn’t strictly true and instead the Commonwealth is indeed very active, particularly in the poorer member states, delivering important social frameworks and charitable projects, promoting democratic reform and securing funding for major infrastructure improvements. But there is one thing that the Commonwealth isn’t doing; providing mass economic benefits through trade.
People in Britain may scaremonger at the idea of ‘free trade agreements’ or a ‘common market’, especially when you consider what the European ideal has evolved into. But that doesn’t need to be the case with the Commonwealth. There need be no political control, no bureaucratic regulation and no central law making bodies. A simple Commonwealth Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), promoting and supporting ethical trade amongst member states is the way forward. The larger economies, like Canada, Australia and of course ourselves can benefit from exporting quality goods to booming economies such as India, while allowing African members to export their goods for a fairer price. It will create jobs in the ‘rich’ countries, boosting the economy and opening up a breadth of new opportunities for large businesses. But it will also help accelerate the already quickly growing economies within the ‘poor’ countries, ensuring that the trade is fair, protective of workers and beneficial for locals.
Asian economies like India and Malaysia offer staggering new opportunities for British business, while many predict that African economies will be the next to boom in around 10 – 20 years times. The UK needs to embrace this, while also helping the economies of its old friends. It should take a lead and set up a working party to establish an eventual Commonwealth Free Trade Agreement.
Our future does not lie with the EU. Our future lies with the Commonwealth.