Foreign Policy - A Cure for the Brexit Trade Blues
On New Year’s Eve, Britain will finally leave the European Union, after more than four years of negotiations—talks that are still ongoing as the clock ticks down.
It is unclear what the conclusion of those negotiations will be, but one thing is for certain: The United Kingdom will need new alliances beyond its current relationships.
The options aren’t attractive. The European Union is likely to feel irked by the U.K.’s animosity to the bloc and its aggressive negotiating stance for years to come. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has been all but hostile to Brexit, publicly raising concerns about its implications for peace in Northern Ireland. And London is also on a collision course with Beijing after offering asylum to millions of Hong Kongers and banning Chinese-owned Huawei from providing the infrastructure to build up a 5G network.
But there’s one underappreciated alternative: the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal countries, home to 2.4 billion people—almost a third of the world’s population—and over 10 percent of global GDP. The Commonwealth has its roots in the British Empire, but any nation can apply to become a part of it. Rwanda, which was never colonized by the British, joined as the association’s newest member in 2009. The group is based on shared values, like parliamentary democracy, as well as diplomatic, governmental, and commercial ties. In short, it’s everything a power bloc needs.
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