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Brexit Facts: The Commonwealth Of Nations Versus The European Union

Given the argument that the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom is primarily an anti-modernist one, driven by nostalgia for a supposed lost Golden Age of British supremacism brought to a premature end through the connivance of envious foreign interests, it is hardly surprising that the Commonwealth of Nations has become an obsessive beacon of hope among the Brexiteers. Despite the endemic xenophobia and racism in the successful campaign against the UK’s membership of the European Union, most of its supporters have convinced themselves that the associated remnants of Britain’s old empire can be persuaded to submit to the politico-economic hegemony of 21st century London.

The assumption that the former constituents of the Pax Britannica are more likely to acknowledge Anglo-British exceptionalism than the upstart continentals the United Kingdom has been partnered with for the last several decades has created all sorts of fact-defying beliefs and theories among the country’s right-wing political and media classes. From the nakedly atavistic Daily Express newspaper, take this bit of jingoistic flag-waving:

Nigel Farage today claimed that Britain could cultivate economic ties within the Commonwealth that would put its life in the EU to shame.

In a scathing assessment of Britain’s time in the EU, Mr Farage praised the fact that Britain could at long last turn to Commonwealth countries, who were growing faster than Europe.

His remarks follow this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), a five-day summit in London this week, featuring the leaders of 53 countries.

[British foreign secretary] Boris Johnson said that the UK had made a “deadly” mistake in joining the Common Market after “turning its back” on the Commonwealth which caused people to “kill themselves”.

Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday discussed the, while the EU may have up to 70 free trade deals with “tiny little places,” they had not secured free trade agreements with large emerging markets like Nigeria, South Africa and India.

Unfortunately for the tabloid Daily Express (which has a dubious relationship with the truth at the best of times), the relative values of the British Commonwealth and the European Union simply don’t match up to its fantastical expectations. The Commonwealth of Nations (CN) is comprised of fifty-three countries and territories, representing a significant 32% of the world’s population and 13.6% of its global GDP. In contrast, the EU has “only” twenty-eight member states (including the soon to be departed Britain), representing just 6.9 % of the global population.

However this unified bloc accounts for a whopping 24.1% of the world’s GDP in one of the most affluent and economically desirable regions on the planet. Furthermore, unlike the CN which has no responsibility for the dozens of individual economies operating under its umbrella, the EU enshrines a coherent single market and customs union, both internally and externally, with a number of associated bodies, members and favoured partners.

To make matters worse, the theoretical combined value of the Commonwealth of Nations looks very, very different when its four largest economies – the United Kingdom itself, Canada, Australia and India – are removed from the calculations. Then the GDP figure drops to a measly 2.6% of global output, this being the total potential wealth of the remaining forty-nine countries in the CN. While the UK has convinced itself that these possible trading partners will compensate for the loss of unrestricted access to one of the richest markets in the world, virtually all nonpartisan observers dismiss the idea. Unfortunately for Britain, most of its would-be friends are understandably prioritising existing and updated deals with Brussels rather than new and uncertain pacts with London, including Australia and the future powerhouse that is India.

In related news, from the British maritime shipping and trade website Marine Link:

…Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association said: “There are around 30 Government agencies or organisations which can carry out procedures at ports and we expect there to be both physical and digital infrastructure requirements at the border to accommodate any new arrangements following Brexit. It is critical that these agencies are prepared for new Brexit regime and that the infrastructure those arrangements will require is in place in time.”

Of particular concern is the traffic traveling via the UK’s Roll-on Roll-off ferry ports, such as Dover, Holyhead, Portsmouth and a number of terminals with links to the continent and Ireland.

Such ports facilitate in excess of 10,000 lorry journeys between the UK and the EU each day, representing 22% of the UK’s entire maritime trade and the majority of the UK’s EU traffic.

The Association represents almost all of these ports and terminals, which almost exclusively on EU routes and therefore do not presently have the facilities for customs officials and other borders agencies.

And what happens to that 22% of the United Kingdom’s maritime trade when the country proudly declares in a year or so from now, “Brexit Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off“?

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19 comments on “Brexit Facts: The Commonwealth Of Nations Versus The European Union

  1. Jams O'Donnell

    Now you can see why the tory party are nicknamed “The Stupid Party”

    • Jams O'Donnell

      However, my own preference would be the old Spanish nickname for the pre-war ruling right wing government – “The Party of Corruption”.

  2. All fun aside though, it’s going to be a terrible few years ahead for the Brits economically. There’s been a bit of waffle over how Ireland doesn’t really need the British trade anymore but there will definitely be a huge knockon hit. The north will suffer terribly unless they’re even more subsidised, which they probably won’t be as the economy will be tanking.
    There’s going to be serious bad times in Belfast, Newry, Derry and in the exporting businesses and agriculture in the south. Winter is coming.

    • Don’t disagree, even if the UK does opt to stay in the customs union – as the press in London is now reporting. Which would make the whole Brexit exercise utterly pointless. I can’t see the Tory right or the Ukippers or Brexiteer media or even the Lexit Labourites going for that.

      • +1 to both.

        Those are some stunning stats re the Commonwealth. And sheesh, if that’s what they’re pinning their hopes on…

        • It is incredible isn’t it? The UK seems to have based most of its hopes, if the Commonwealth is the route to economic prosperity, upon a handful of economies thousands of kilometers away in Canada and Australia. Not to mention New Zealand. Do they really think that these countries can make up for severely restricted access to neighbouring markets in France or Germany or Spain? Or Ireland?

          The ongoing attempts by the UK to woo India, with all sorts of offers designed to undercut the current EU trade discussions are pretty mad. The prime sweetner seems to be a waiver on many H&S rules, both on the actual imported goods themselves and in terms of their manufacture in India. The EU, on the other hand, has at least some sort of record of trying to discourage the use of child labour for imports into the bloc and tight restrictions on what is acceptable, food standards-wise, etc. The UK seems to be saying, send us any kind of inflammable or poisonous crap and we’ll dispatch our chlorinated chicken and cans of spam your way!

  3. Wee Jimmie

    Some of the leaders of Brexit may be inspired by nostalgia, though others have visions of low-tax, small-state Singapore-in-the-North-Sea, but the underlying attitude of many of the people who voted for it is dislike of foreigners of any kind, Commonwealth or not, hostility to foreign involvements and an attitude that might be called “Ourselves Alone”. They don’t expect to benefit from leaving the EU, but they look forward to the people who did benefit from being in it suffering too.

  4. I see one is still lazily accusing the brexiteers of xenophobia,racism etc in excusing their referendum win? Be in no doubt there is racism and xenophobia on both sides but the crux of the matter is pretty simple I.e a bigger pool of the labour workforce stagnates and thus drives down wages to the detriment of the average Joe. Thus their standard of living dwindles and their credit consumption rises. Happy days if you are the one doing the exploiting.
    Btw be in no doubt the two main parties of Britain are contriving to stay in the EU. They are just engineering a way that will blind the Brit public to the treason. As for the UKIP? They were obviously pulled asunder from within, by the deep state, in order to facilitate this betrayal. You only have to look at the embarassing sex tales of their recent ex spook leader for an example of the Brit establishment at work.

    • Hmmm. Maybe… But there is some validity to the argument that not every supporter of Brexit is xenophobic or racist but everyone who is xenophobic or racist is a supporter of Brexit.

      Ah, c’mon. That UKIP scandal was of its own making.

      • Like all political parties the UKIP is susceptible to workings of the enemy within. The very fact that Corbyn could be elected as the next prime monster has no doubt frightened some of the horses from supporting UKIP back to the Tories. And btw an ‘ex’ spook takes the reins of the UKIP and almost immediately he’s involved in a scandal that would further disillusion those voters who want an alternative to the two usual ‘pretend’ foes.. Sounds a bit contrived to me. Just saying.

        • Surely its more likely that UKIP is perennially beset by scandal because the pool of likely members and candidates contains a fair degree of fruitcakes and loons? It’s a fringe party offering fringe ideas, at the more extreme edges, so that even politically-minded people who kinda-sorta agree with some of its broad points on mass immigration and foreigners speaking foreign on public transport are very unlikely to join up. That leaves the nutters, opportunists and folk who wouldn’t be allowed in the door of any conventional party.

          When the recruitment pool is so small and so polluted of course you are going to get no end of problems. That doesn’t require spook intervention, just an all too willing press eager to stir the trouble into an even worse concoction 🙂

          • Think you’ll find there were quite a few million people who voted for the UKIP so the pool would’ve been bigger than anything irish parties have to choose from and yet there’s no loonies in those parties?
            Btw if you don’t think the spooks interfere in political parties then you are very very naive. A party pops up that threatens the status quo(two party state) is very much in the ‘interests of national security’. And it’s a fact the UKIP was a threat to the traditional two parties and their hegemon and thus the state had to curtail this new party. The very fact that the BNP never ever reached the heights that the UKIP achievec suggests that the people that voted for them were not racist but were sick of the two party state charade. P.s Do you think the spook agencies only deal with matters of ‘terrorism’ lol.

            • Yep, I agree that the UKIP message, or at least the central message on Brexit/immigration, appealed far beyond its core vote. However, the fact that it remained so electorally marginal meant that politically ambitious people, intelligent, rational and articulate ones, were less inclined to head in its direction. Especially with the press presenting it as so ideologically vile.

              So the pool of potential recruits was drastically shrunk and remained so. It’s the old software programmers adage: crap in, crap out. They just kept recruiting awful people, the awful people recruiting more awful people, while anyone with talent was kept in the minority.

              Plus Nigel Farage made sure that rivals or competitors were kept under the thumb when he was the boss or pushed out the door.

              Finally, the UK electoral system is awful. UKIP got 10%+ of the vote in the general election and came away with one seat. PR would have yielded them far more than that.

              • Yes ‘awful people’ were recruited into the UKIP most notably some very dodgy tories(sleaze) but were they genuine or were they doing a job on the party? P.s why do you think the controlled media went to town on them? At the behest of the state/spooks that’s why. The same media could fill their pages with the sleaze of the two main parties but choose not to(or arnt allowed to).

  5. Rees- Mogg over the weekend stated,””The EU is not only contradicting its own policy but jeopardising the economic future of the Republic of Ireland.If Britain trades on WTO terms, we could potentially slap tariffs of up to 70 per cent on Irish beef. “That could bankrupt Ireland, who export £800 million of beef to us every year”… still the old Imperialism is alive and well among the British Establishment.

    • Jams O'Donnell

      Don’t worry. By the time this is all over the EU will have knocked all the imperialism out of Westminster. They’ll be happy to be a colony themselves.

    • Rees-Mogg should remember that the last trade war between Ireland and the UK ended in a British capitulation…

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