Thursday, 28 April 2016

InFacts: The Commonwealth pawn in the Brexit game

InFacts: The Commonwealth pawn in the Brexit game

by Yojana Sharma

"There’s nothing new about the immigrants-are-taking-our-jobs argument, but Brexit has added a new twist. Because some migrant groups settled in Britain can vote in the referendum, a generalised anti-immigration message is not going to go down well.

Appealing to the interests of ethnic minorities from Commonwealth countries makes sense because Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK have a referendum vote. European citizens, even if resident, don’t (with the exception of citizens of Malta and Cyprus, who are also Commonwealth citizens).

But standing up for Commonwealth interests as a Brexit strategy is nothing but a cynical ploy and a form of nostalgia for the British Empire dressed up to suit the Leave campaign. The argument goes like this: we were fine before we joined the EU because we had the Commonwealth (read: Empire). So we’ll be fine again when we leave. We’ll just do business with Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India and other Commonwealth countries that fought with us during the war and are “more like us”."

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