June 23rd and the issue of #LEXIT (a left exit from the EU straight jacket) is an issue of democracy not just of politics or financial responsibility. At present, a vote for the EU is vote for surrendering your democratic rights to a group of unelected financiers hell bent on securing a fiscal discipline that will ruin many countries but ensure German exports remain competitive. Every day more and more powers are transferred to Brussels, whilst the Great British Public are left emasculated and none the wiser.
Notwithstanding the imperialist past of our sceptred isle (that’s for another day) I ask now: Could Britain focus on developing closer ties, if not a full political Union with fellow Commonwealth of Nations states if it left the EU? It is often said that Britain “has forgotten old friends” since joining the EU and has neglected close and once successful ties with Australia, New Zealand and Canada; Britain’s termination of EU membership would take away the burden of a supranational body based in Brussels who prevents any EU state from establishing their own trade links without EU agreement. Undoubtedly, now is the time to put the Commonwealth (C) back into Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)! A time could come in the future at which a Federal Commonwealth Union could be created, which would represent Commonwealth issues on the world stage and would politically reunite Commonwealth countries once again.
What makes this closer Commonwealth so attractive and why would it work? As former states of the British Empire, each nation has ‘common’ roots in that English is the major language and Common Law is widespread. Arguably, the seeds of a common free trade agreement are already spreading their roots, with Australia, New Zealand and Canada (ANZAC) frequently trading with each other; there is no reason why this free trade agreement cannot be spread to all Commonwealth states.
A Commonwealth-wide defence and intelligence sharing agreement could easily be agreed upon; and as London is the world’s banking capital, a Commonwealth-wide Investment bank could be fashioned immediately. Commonwealth countries regularly share Embassies around the world and the majority of Commonwealth heads of Government are on good terms with each other, and HM Queen Elizabeth II is the much-loved Head of State of 16 countries and 3 Crown Dependencies which would allow for a smooth transition into a closer Commonwealth.
By 2025 the Commonwealth will have surpassed the EU. More importantly, the Commonwealth has a population of over 2 billion people, 4 times the population of the EU and so from a purely commercial standpoint consider that this is the age of containerisation and cheap sea trade, what this then presents is an enormous and largely unrealised market for British business—fostered on cooperation instead of imperialist conquest, lest we forget this is 2016 not 1816.
An independent Britain would be able to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU, just as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states -- Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein -- all do.
More importantly, it could form free trade agreements with Commonwealth states currently shunned by the EU such as Australia and New Zealand. The Lisbon Treaty allows us to remain within the EU as long as we like whilst we conclude our exit negotiations. In this time we can agree trade agreements with as many countries as we wish before Lexiting.
Trading with the Commonwealth and the EU would give the UK unrestricted access to 32 percent of world GDP. Add to this the EFTA countries and the USA -- the only major Anglosphere country not in the Commonwealth -- and this rises to just over 50%. This is even before we start forming trade agreements with emerging markets in the Far East and South America and especially India.
What about the position this would have on immigration? Those swathes of non-white people that might flood in according to the kind of Labour voters who transferred themselves to the UKIP stable in the last election? Don’t forget that many on the Left (I call them the pro-imperialist left) think Labour politicians have time and again made concessions to the far-right on immigration, and their fear is that if we left the EU that would be that, and the UK would become a very uncomfortable place to live if you were born in another country but the fact is the UK is a hugely cosmopolitan place now, that isn't going to suddenly change if we're not in the EU.
The Greek crisis has lifted the lid on what the Euro project is really about, entrenchment of the 'free market' dogma across Europe and the destruction of all opposition to the culture of banksterism. Syriza's allowed itself to believe it could reform while still within the Euro when its only real hope was exit from the Eurozone and possibly the EU. Podemos may also make the same mistake but Spain being a much larger economy it might be difficult for the neoliberal tin hat gang to crush. What is clear is that the seeds have been sown by Merkel for a huge amount of social conflict across Europe.
In the UK we have to look at what is happening as a clear warning, leaving the EU would break the Tories and free us on the left. It has to be a no vote.
And we haven’t even covered TTIP yet but that’s for another day.
(Originally published on Saurav's website here)