by John Brian Shannon | June 25, 2016
When a thing isn’t working, it’s time to quit. Whether it’s a marriage or a political union there comes a time to say a respectful ‘goodbye’.
And it appears howevermuch joining the EU has propelled the UK economy, the social cost of millions of eastern European economic migrants and Levant refugees streaming into the UK is higher than British citizens are comfortable with.
The raison d’être for the creation of the EU is quite wonderful — inspired even. But there can be a difference between the theory of a thing and what has actually occurred.
Scary statistics were trotted out in order to push UK citizens into voting to stay in the European Union, but when analyzed turned out to be speculative, at best.
It looks like the EU project is in trouble. I wish them well, and I hope they solve their problems.
In the meantime, the UK must do what is best for the UK
And in my opinion, that means inviting like-minded nations to join The Commonwealth with the goal of increasing economic and social integration with those sovereign northern European nations. (Norway never joined the EU, Switzerland recently left the EU, and the Scandinavian nations are gone as soon as the first opportunity appears that meets optics standards)
If the UK, the Scandinavian countries and Ireland form a loose economic and social cooperative union (or even better, become members of a re-energized Commonwealth) it will immediately boost economic and social metrics across those nations without the downsides of EU membership.
Without wishing any harm to the EU; The European Union can better concentrate on southern European issues with Germany and France leading the way, and without northern European concerns to complicate things.
The question is; Do we choose safe, or do we choose Carpe Diem?
The European Union is deep in it’s own problems for the foreseeable future and in that context I made the case for the UK to leave the EU. As there’s no precedent, it could now become anything the UK government wants it to become.
How about this?
- The UK adopts a similar relationship to the EU as Norway and Switzerland.
- The UK invites Scandinavian nations and Ireland to become part of The Commonwealth.
- The UK institutes a 1% Tobin Tax, keeping one-quarter of one percent for administrative purposes, and remits the remaining three-quarters of one percent to the IMF — to be held in a special account that only the UK government can spend on the UK and on other Commonwealth nations.
- Every Commonwealth nation should phase-in a 1% Tobin Tax over a 5-year period. And just as in the UK, one-quarter of one percent would be retained by each Commonwealth nation to cover collection and administration costs of the Tobin Tax.
- It’s obvious that a trillion pounds of Tobin Tax revenue would accrue rather quickly — and be available to each Commonwealth nation to spend in any other Commonwealth nation. (Need a new SASOL headquarters in London? Perhaps you need to double the export capacity in the port of Accra? Or with the proper funding you can finally build that 1 GigaWatt wind farm and export billions of dollars/pounds/rands worth of electricity to neighbouring countries. Now you have instant funding!)
- If you’re the UK there’s one thing you want, countries lining up to join The Commonwealth. And soon contributing their own Tobin Tax revenue to the special IMF account used (only) to strengthen trade links with other Commonwealth economies.
- The ultimate goal, would be for the entire Commonwealth to copy the Norwegian economic model (as much as is reasonably possible) in order to attain Norway’s enviable statistics — such as the world’s highest per capita income, among the world’s highest productivity, free university for all citizens and residents and (related to that) among the lowest crime rate in the world, and so much more. Keep in mind Norway’s very high-ranking on the Social Progress Index and on the UN Happiness Index (free PDF downloads for both) And remember, all positive economic indicators flow from those statistics — not the other way around.
The question would then become;
“Which country wouldn’t want to join The Commonwealth?”
In this, the 21st-century, it should never be a case of looking at a glass, half-full. It should always be about creating a massively better system. One that is a whole order of magnitude better than the presently sputtering economic model.
Previous generations of politicians rose to meet the challenges of their time, and likewise the UK government must also rise to the so-called challenges of our time.
But meeting the challenges of our time must be considered passé as the UK is sufficiently advanced that it should blow past the challenges of our time in the same way a Bentley Mulsanne Speed blows past an economy car on the M6 motorway.
Who Should Lead an Empowered Commonwealth?
Whomever is the most recently dismissed Prime Minister of any Commonwealth country should (within 180 days of losing office) be appointed to the top job — Secretary General of The Commonwealth.
In that way, a flow of different approaches from highly empowered and knowledgeable people will lead The Commonwealth of Nations and each former PM will undoubtedly leave their stamp on the broad policies of that organization.
A former Indian Prime Minister sitting as Secretary General might advance the cause of microgrid power generation across all developing Commonwealth nations, while the next SecGen (from the UK for example) might take up the cause of getting resources from all Commonwealth nations to China and other major markets. And during the time of an African Secretary General of The Commonwealth, the preferred cause might be improvement of all Commonwealth port facilities in order to dramatically expedite trade — getting Commonwealth goods to every market, faster, fresher, and better.
What matters to me, is that each Secretary General leaves a positive impact on The Commonwealth using his or her unique worldview, experience, contacts and ability.
It will be this synergy that will make The Commonwealth all that it can and should be.
The Commonwealth of Nations is a group of interdependent countries.
“The Commonwealth is a name for countries which were part of the British Empire before they became independent. This group of states works together on many important matters, like business, health and the fight against poverty.” — Wikipedia
- Should Britain Leave the EU? (Project Syndicate)
- A British Bridge for a Divided Europe (Project Syndicate)
- The Bear’s Lair: Brexit Could Unshackle Britain From A Corpse (TalkMarkets)
- What is The Commonwealth? (World Atlas)
A fellow named Martin Hutchinson has commented about British trade/Brexit in his blogging/articles. He is enthusiastic about a new trade grouping, The Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru). He believes that what this group has to offer complements the British economy.
The trade minister of Colombia has suggested that the Alliance negotiate a trade agreement with Britain.
I know that Britain is not located on the Pacific. Perhaps somebody who is good with statistics could discuss the effects of the Panama Canal Expansion, which will allow the canal to accommodate much larger vessels.
Thank you for the information about Martin Hutchinson’s excellent blog. I’ve posted a link to his article “The Bear’s Lair: Brexit Could Unshackle Britain From A Corpse” here at lettertobritain.com.
Best regards, JBS
Opportunity may lead the British to unexpected places.
I understand that David Cameron discussed trade during his tour of southeast Asia. The region has potential.
I came across reference to a British trade mission to Cuba, scheduled for 2015.
Perhaps Britain will develop a new trade network?
Thank you again for commenting.
Let’s hope that Britain does develop a new trade network over and above the present unwieldy and constrained trade paradigm. I understand that EU trade negotiations typically take longer than 2 years as 28 nations must have their say and agree to any proposed trade deal.
When Britain is again 100% sovereign, bilateral trade agreements need only take a matter of weeks.
Best regards, JBS
Mozambique would seem to be an anomaly. Before independence, the country was a Portuguese colony. Yet the country joined the Commonwealth.
Somebody must have been doing something right!
Consider the countries that David Cameron visited-Indonesia was ruled by the Dutch; Vietnam was ruled by the French.
I will give Mr. Cameron credit for thinking outside the box.
(BTW, I believe that the gun on the Mozambique flag is an AK-47).
I agree with you, somebody must have been doing something right for Mozambique to join The Commonwealth.
And it is interesting that Prime Minster David Cameron visited many nations to promote links generally, but hopefully to promote their joining The Commonwealth. Plenty of mutual benefit there!
PM Cameron did an outstanding job for Britain.
Thank you again, for commenting here at Letter to Britain.
Best regards, JBS
I came across online a concept for an enhanced Commonwealth group. Members: UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand.
Of course, there is a concept for a bilateral UK/US trade deal.
There has been support on both sides of the Atlantic for British membership in NAFTA. This idea seems like a stopgap to me — NAFTA was formed without British input — but might be worth consideration.
A bilateral UK/US trade deal must be a very high priority of the British government; How could it not be?
Building onto the NAFTA agreement by adding the UK to that accord is a tantalizing idea. I hope that it gains momentum.
Thank you again for your interesting comments!
There seems to have been multiple reasons as to why Mozambique joined the Commonwealth. One suggestion-NGOs and professional associations that were associated with the Commonwealth.
Which brings up a question-how can Britain entice a country into entering a relationship? Looking at online articles about counter trade…. Being proactive in counter trade can give a country a competitive edge. (the Chinese do infrastructure projects). Counter trade may be useful with countries that are cash poor but resource rich….
Countries that make payments-not in cash-in the form of the food, energy and raw materials that Britain needs to import.
Really great to get these comments from you!
The Commonwealth does a lot of great work for it’s members, and yes, NGO’s can figure large in a country’s progress.
So much the better if they are associated with the UK, which spends .71% of it’s GDP on foreign assistance, a percentage almost more than any other country (the EU average is .47%, for example, while Canada spends .2% of GDP on foreign aid)
It makes me wonder if all .71% of the UK’s foreign aid shouldn’t be spent on Commonwealth nations alone, and on nations likely to join the Commonwealth.
I certainly agree with you on counter-trade. But at the same time, I admire Germany’s balance of trade surplus and hope that Britain decides to emulate it. With a lower Sterling, exports should rise (and they have started to rise in recent months) and with some commitment from the government, exports could rise dramatically. Those are two more things I hope the government pursues.
Thanks for your comment!
Martin Hutchinson commented that Britain’s natural trade partners offer what Britain lacks: food, energy, raw materials.
Consider competition to British trade. The Chinese are seeking similar trade partners (and building infrastructure in those countries). Other potential competitors? Japan. European countries. (In recent years Spain has become an important investor in Latin America, for example).
To compete, Britain must appear to be an attractive partner. Foreign aid might be part of the package.
Imagine a country that has valuable mineral resources. The Chinese, as part of a package, have been building infrastructure in that country. How can Britain compete for part of that trade?
Perhaps that country isn’t interested in The Commonwealth, but might trade with Britain if the British offer an attractive package
Which brings up another question-can Britain benefit from Chinese-built infrastructure? If so, the Chinese would be subsidizing British trade. 🙂
I agree with all you’ve said, and more. Imagine if China were building infrastructure projects all over the globe and the UK financial community was financing many of those projects.
Imagine China setting up companies (for example, in South America) to grow fruit, vegetables, and biofuel crops — and Britain was invited by China and the host country to finance those startups and M&A’s and a global headquarters in London to promote and administer their global exports.
As always, best regards, JBS
JBS, are you aware of this concept-Commonwealth Mark II?
(atlasofbritempire.com, The Future, The Commonwealth at 60)
Interesting that countries as diverse as Angola (which was ruled by the Portuguese) and Madagascar (which was ruled by the French) would be interested in joining the Commonwealth.