Home EU Referendum BREXIT: ‘Advantage Commonwealth’

BREXIT: ‘Advantage Commonwealth’

Brexit campaigners Priti Patel, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson pushing the campaign at East London

Andrew Rosindell MP, Chairman of the Australia, New Zealand and Canada Parliamentary Groups, says Brexit will help Britain to trade more with the Commonwealth. An exclusive column:

Andrew Rosindell MP
Andrew Rosindell MP

We are told that the European Union is good for Britain: it creates jobs, strengthens our economy and gives us global reach. The fate of the Remain campaign depends on the British people and our friends in the Commonwealth believing that to be true. But I am confident that they won’t be fooled.

To deny that Britain will succeed outside of the EU is to deny the very reasons why we are a successful country today. We are the fifth largest economy and have the fourth largest defence budget in the world; we have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council; our language is spoken by billions of people across the globe; our capital city is one of the three “command centres” of the global economy and the City of London is the world’s most prominent financial centre.

The truth is none of the things that make Britain successful are down to the EU. In fact it’s the EU that holds Britain back. As a member, Britain is prevented from striking trade deals with the rest of the world. This not only means that we lose out on the exciting emerging markets of India and China, but we effectively neglect our allies in the Commonwealth.

After we joined in 1973, our trade with the Commonwealth declined dramatically. It’s time we rebuilt those links, especially since many of those countries are now among the fastest growing in the world.

Brexit campaigners Priti Patel, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson pushing the campaign at East London
Brexit campaigners Priti Patel, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson pushing the campaign at East London

To choose not to re-engage with the Commonwealth, at the same time as trading freely with Europe and the rest of the world would be a mistake. Today 53 nations belong to the Commonwealth, spanning every time zone –  from Canada and Jamaica, to Pakistan and the British Overseas Territories. Together we have a GDP of over £6.341 trillion. In contrast the EU comprises 28 nations, with goals and ambitions that are very different and whose combined economic clout is in serious decline. The EU’s share of world GDP has fallen from 34% in 1980 to 24% today.

But the Commonwealth is about more than just trade and cooperation, important though that is. These are 2.3 billion people who share our language, heritage and culture. They see the world through the same lens that we do. And that matters in the dangerous, competitive and global world that we live in today.

If there’s one thing that our friends in the Commonwealth should be aware of, then, it is that the EU discriminates against people from outside the EU.

By having an open border to almost 500 million people inside the EU, the British Government is forced to turn away non EU immigrants in order to control the number of people coming to Britain, many of whom share deep historical ties with our country.

Think about what our fixation with a trading block whose combined population is almost half the size of India says about Britain in the modern world. We are essentially saying that if you’re lucky enough to own an EU passport you can come to Britain no questions asked, but if you’re someone from Bangladesh who has been brought up to believe that Britain is a place that you can call home then, sorry, we don’t have the room for you.

That kind of system is not just unfair, but it is economically counterproductive. Why should we deprive ourselves of a skilled engineer in Sri Lanka or a doctor in Nigeria just to remain a member of a failing, corrupt and deeply undemocratic system?

That is not a fate that I am prepared to accept. On Thursday 23rd June we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to take back control of our borders, our laws and our destiny as an open and outward looking nation. Let’s set free the curiosity and talent inside our young people, the buccaneering spirit of our entrepreneurs, and the freedom of our people to do right as well as wrong. Let’s Vote Leave on Thursday 23rd June.

Priti Patel MP with supporters at Maidstone pushing OUT campaign
Priti Patel MP with supporters at Maidstone pushing OUT campaign