The Swamp logo

The Commonwealth Has Never Been Fit For Purpose, Why will It Be Different In The Age Of Brexit?

by Adebayo Adeniran 3 months ago in history

A huge part of the selling point of Brexit was the fall back of trade deals with the commonwealth, but was it a wise one, given the complex history of the Britain in relation to its former colonies?

The British Commonwealth via Wikimedia Commons

The commonwealth of nations, known in common parlance, as the commonwealth, is a political union of fifty four countries - mostly former nation states colonized by Britain during the time of the empire. These fifty four countries include the likes of Singapore, Malaysia, India, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Jamaica, Barbados, New Zealand and Australia.

Since the 1990s, we have had the likes of Rwanda and Mozambique apply to be part of this body, the former, in protest at Belgium and France's complicity in the 1994 genocide.

The United states of America, by virtue of its history of being colonized by Great Britain should be a member of this organization, but on the grounds of its exceptionalism and its supreme global power, America, being number two to Britain, with her majesty, as the head, might seem a tad absurd, back then in the 1930s, during its formation and certainly now.

But there's a slight contradiction here; American Citizens have always taken advantage of the Rhodes scholarship set up by the murderous and exploitative Brit - Cecil Rhodes - who made his fortunes off the sweat of Black Africans in the South African mines.

The Background

Owing to its historic ties to Britain, you would be forgiven for thinking that every member state, regardless of its racial make up, within this organization, would enjoy equal treatment, as it relates to trade deals and the ease of movement to the United Kingdom?

No. This, unfortunately, has never been the case.

Britain, as the world's greatest purveyor of racism and imperialism, in its head, was still in control of these outposts in Asia and Africa and regarded them as inferior in every sense of the term. This thinking was the order of the day among the leading lights of Britain's political class, in the Conservative, Labour and Liberal parties.

This is why the likes of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, although not independent states, with Queen Elizabeth II, as their head of state, have always enjoyed preferential treatment and in the words of Harold Wilson, the Labour Prime Minister from 1964–70 and from 1974–76, referred to the white settlers of Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as "Kith and Kin".

It is exactly why Rhodes Scholars have come mainly from " white commonwealth" countries and white settlers from former African colonies.

It's precisely why the British nationality act was changed when 50,000 Asians, with British passports resettled in the UK, from Kenya and Uganda in the late 1960s and the early 1970s.

It's the reason why Ian Smith of Zimbabwe, previously known as Rhodesia, unilaterally declared independence in 1965 and essentially got away with it, despite the outrage of the "Black commonwealth nations".

It's why Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, both of whom were dyed in the wool racists, opposed the imposition of sanctions on South Africa, during the apartheid regime, in the 1980s.

When Robert Mugabe took over the arable farms owned by the white landlords and redistributed them to Black farmers in the 2000s, in the spirit of Marxist dialectic, Britain's outrage reverberated across the world, conveniently forgetting its actions in the previous decades.

The commonwealth has always reflected the prejudice and the white supremacist politics of the monarchy and the British political class.

New World Order

Since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the world has irrevocably changed, with China's economic and political preponderance (despite not being a democracy), the transformation of Singapore from an swampy outpost to a major global player, thanks to the extraordinary perspicacity of the late Lee Kwan Yew.

India, awoken from its narcolepsy, promptly abandoned socialism, thanks to Manmohan Singh and began to embrace market economics, thus setting the tone for its phenomenal growth and its eventual eclipsing of its former colonial master as the 5th largest economy in the world.

Indian, given its place, in today's integrated and interconnected world, as the hub for information technology, looks to the silicon valley and the United States of America for inspiration as opposed to the United Kingdom.

Which brings us to the question, where does it leave Britain?

During the 2016 referendum campaign, Barack Obama popped into Britain, and held a press conference with his British counterpart, in which he spoke about the disadvantages of the UK choosing to go it alone. Obama stated that in the age of Brexit, Britain would be consigned to the back of the queue.

Barack Obama and Cameron via WSJ and YouTube

Barack Obama and David Cameron, prior to the referendum. Courtesy of YouTube and the wall street journal.Cue outrage from the Brexiters, who were fiercely critical of the President. how dare he tell what to do? who is he to meddle in our affairs?

But just as the Brexiters lied through their teeth during the campaign about 350 million pound in weekly savings for the NHS, they were also busy telling porkies to the British public, saying that they would cut trade deals with fellow commonwealth member states.

With Brexit now fully upon us, Britain is finding out, the hard way, that its world is about to become smaller and the specter of her becoming a third rate nation looms quite large.

The profoundly corrupt elite on the right of the English political spectrum( Jacob Rees Mogg, Boris Johnson, Peter Bone and Bill Cash)made a fortune, betting on the outcome and left us a mess, so huge, it would take a political revolution to get Britain on back on level footing with its contemporaries in the European Union.

With India gravitating to the United States and Britain's former colonies in Africa, in love with all things Chinese - its money, technology, dodgy merchandise and a general lack of interference in its political affairs, weaning them off to sell brand Britannia, post Brexit, is mission impossible, pure and simple.

However well meaning the concept of bringing the former colonies together may have been, Britain's extraordinarily poor leadership and its racism has made it impossible for the union to work.

The commonwealth has been Queen Elizabeth II's pet project, since her ascension to the throne in 1953. Since then, the world has undergone several changes, some quite traumatic, others for the better. And it's very unlikely that this vanity project will survive her majesty's demise, which isn't too far away, in my candid opinion.

The commonwealth has never been fit for purpose and in the age of Brexit, this reality won't change. The time to consign it to the dustbin of history may have finally arrived.

Thanks very much for reading.

history
Adebayo Adeniran
Adebayo Adeniran
Read next: New Mexico—It's like a State, like All the Others!
Adebayo Adeniran

A lifelong bibliophile, who seeks to unleash his energy on a number of subjects

See all posts by Adebayo Adeniran

Find us on socal media

Miscellaneous links