This article was originally published on The Commentator
In 1972 former Prime Minister Edward Heath led Britain into the European Economic Community, and in doing so committed one of the greatest betrayals in British history.
At a stroke, this ended our preferential trading arrangements with the countries of the Commonwealth. Many of them dependent on this trading arrangement, countries such as New Zealand were amongst the hardest hit.
With Brexit we have a chance to right this historic wrong, and once again fully re-engage with the Commonwealth.
Many Commonwealth nations including Canada, Australia and Ghana have now made it clear their policy is to secure a free trade deal with the United Kingdom. The opportunity is here to forge a Commonwealth-spanning free trade arrangement.
This is not based on sentiment or failure to let go of the past, but is one of the most forward-looking economic decisions the UK will now be able to make after Brexit.
The EU is in terminal decline. Its share of the world economy is shrinking year on year and is fast becoming an irrelevance. The EU has dropped from being nearly a third of the world economy 30 years ago to now being less than a sixth. By contrast, the Commonwealth is beginning to boom — it’s expected to overtake the EU’s economy in less than a decade.
There is little hope for the EU ever to match the Commonwealth in economic terms after Brexit. The EU is simply failing. It’s too over-regulated and too focused on political union to ever be an effective economic bloc again. The Commonwealth has over four times as many people as the EU. Many of those live in India, Malaysia and Bangladesh, which are some of the fastest growing developing economies.
Their growing demands for goods and services could fuel Britain’s economy for years to come. In economic terms, the Commonwealth is the future economic power house. It is about time we embraced the future of the world economy and became a forward-looking power.
In the past, we’ve have been forced to keep tariffs high on our Commonwealth brethren. Now we have the opportunity to create what will very soon become the largest trading area in the world. Such an opportunity is unique to Britain — no other country has the historic links to be able to forge this kind of relationship. Brexit is the necessary catalyst for this free trade area, which could bring great trade benefits and greater wealth for all involved.
This is our opportunity to once again become a global trading nation. We will continue to have a strong and close trading relationship with the EU – preferably a new free trade deal, rather than trying to remain part of the single market with the associated problems of free movement of people.
After all, we are only a few miles away, across the English Channel. It’s when we combine this with our natural position as one of the leaders of the Commonwealth that we will have an unparalleled opportunity to forge trading links which truly span the globe and restore our place as one of the world’s great trading nations with access to all of the world’s economies. This could only lead to greater economic success for Britain.
It is not just economically where the Commonwealth can be a boost to Britain. As the EU is continuing to fall apart under pressure from the ongoing and seemingly never ending Eurozone and migration crises, it is becoming even more inward-looking and losing much of its position on the world stage.
Now we must look at the growing powers of the Commonwealth — such as India — to ally with on the global stage. It’s these growing powers which will dominate the 21st century. We must ensure they are on Britain’s side. Inside the EU, our relationships with much of the developing world are hamstrung.
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy hinders farmers in the developing world from exporting to EU countries and keeps them in poverty. Outside the EU we would not need to maintain such a horrendous farming policy, which damages our relationship with the developing world.
To underline, Brexit gives us the potential for Britain to not only be yet another European voice at the world table, but to once again become a world leader
Greater engagement would also make Britain far safer. Our current major security arrangement is with the Five Eyes, which includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. This means three of our major security partners are Commonwealth members, so it’s easy to see how a Commonwealth security arrangement could develop over the coming years and decades from this alliance.
This would provide new information sources for Britain, which we previously have had little access to. Many Commonwealth countries will have abilities to gather information which Britain simply can’t have, due to geography and funding limitations. Such an information-sharing agreement would not only make Britain safer, but could potentially make the whole world much safer. Outside the EU and no longer restricted by having to facilitate EU information-sharing proposals into our security plans, this could well become a reality.
Now, as we gear ourselves towards a Britain which is free from the constraints of EU membership, it is clear we must really engage with the Commonwealth to make the most of the opportunities Brexit will open up for us. A failure to do so could leave us isolated, and would mean we would be spurning the greatest potential to restore Britain’s place in the world for decades.
The Commonwealth is the best bet for Britain’s future prosperity and success in the world. It is time to Get Britain Out of the EU, and back into playing a leading role in the Commonwealth and regaining Britain’s place on the world stage.