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Remind Me Again Why We Want to Brexit

by John Brian Shannon

The next general election in the United Kingdom is scheduled for May 5, 2022 and many are beginning to wonder whether Brexit will be completed by that date.

Of course, with a new Prime Minister at the helm starting July 23, 2019 there is the chance that injecting new blood into the ongoing Brexit debacle will finally get the UK over the line and at long last(!) allow the country to become all that it can and should be.

After 3-years of economic uncertainty that’s caused harm to the UK economy and to the other economies depending on a strong British economy (such as the Republic of Ireland) it will be refreshing to know that restoring the UK economy to the roaring lion it once was is on the horizon. And that’s a good thing.


Let’s Talk About the Benefits of Brexit for a Moment

With the passage of time, some Brexit benefits may have faded in the minds of some. Hey, you’re busy people and you’ve got lots on your mind, so let’s refresh, shall we?

  1. The UK will be able to sign as many free trade deals as it likes. Many countries including the Commonwealth of Nations countries, the USA, the CPTPP countries and more have all said they’d like free trading arrangements with the UK. Also, the African Union, MERCOSUR (an Atlantic Ocean-facing South American trade bloc) and the Pacific Alliance (a South American trade bloc fronting the Pacific Ocean) want trade deals with the UK in the immediate post-Brexit timeframe. GCC countries too, have expressed an interest in improved UK trade. Impressive, as those countries in totality represent about 4.5 billion citizens. And if you’re a moneygrubber like me, you don’t think of those people so much as ‘citizens’ of those countries, you think of them as ‘potential consumers’ of UK products and services. Hehe. (But if ‘we’ don’t fill their orders — then ‘some other country’ will) Consequently, if UK GDP doesn’t subsequently improve by £1 trillion within 5-years, Britain’s business community is doing it all wrong. Get used to seeing UK exporters selling record amounts of goods and services due to the new trade opportunities presented by Brexit.
  2. The UK will again control who is allowed to enter the country and be able (and allowed!) to properly police its borders in the same way that every normal country in the world polices their borders. At this point, the UK border force and the country’s police and security services have some rather large gaps in their information — as to who’s in or out of the country — due to the EU’s lax (irresponsible?) border and immigration policies. Commonwealth nations stand to gain the most from Brexit as many of them are rapidly developing nations whose young people may enjoy gaining streamlined access to seasonal work visas, returning home at the end of each season with some hard-earned cash in hand and a newfound appreciation for the opportunities the UK affords decent and hardworking Commonwealth citizens.
  3. The UK will again be in full control of its own laws and its courts. And no longer will a situation exist where the UK surrendered some of its hard-won sovereignty to a foreign power — which is expressly forbidden under the UK’s constitutional framework by the way. What kind of politicians would willingly surrender the sovereignty of their own country to a foreign power, and an economic competitor power at that? None! (Well, none… other than the pollyanna, globalist, snowflake generation of British politicians in power when the UK joined the European Union. And all of it done without the benefit of a referendum until 23-years later) Shameful in the extreme! Heads should roll. They won’t. They should. But as long as it gets straightened out before the next UK general election I’m fine with letting bygones be bygones.
  4. The UK will no longer pay an average net payment of £10 billion per year to the EU. Over 10-years that’s £100 billion (not £100 million, but billion!) Who could’ve negotiated such a deal? Only British-hating UK negotiators, that’s who.
  5. Cheaper food for UK consumers and a wider selection of goods from which to choose in the shops. This will occur due to the huge economies of scale of the North American marketplace and via the competition inherent within the EU marketplace, and from goods and services sourced from other continents.
  6. UK universities full and expanding due to higher enrolment from new free trade partner countries. And increased employment opportunities for British educators at UK universities is just one more benefit of Brexit.
  7. UK tourism operators will experience record year-on-year numbers as citizens from new trading partners become interested in the UK. For one example, if your Commonwealth son or daughter is working or studying in the UK, chances are you’ll end up in the UK at the holidays for a visit. And that’s good for UK tourism.
  8. UK hospitals will earn billions as patients from new trade partner countries travel to the UK for treatment. NHS expertise is highly respected around the world and Medical Doctors in other nations that have free trade agreements with the UK may have the option to send their patients to the UK for treatment. Billions that could be earned by the NHS are presently missed because no one is looking at this great cash-cow which could re-energize NHS budgets to a very high degree.
  9. The UK could dedicate its foreign aid spending to Commonwealth of Nations countries exclusively and keep the money in the family so to speak. The problem with foreign aid spending (as noble as it is for rich countries to help developing nations) is that once it’s spent, the UK will never see any benefit in return from such spending as the number of people who know which foreign aid donor funded this or that project in their nation is very small. Sometimes only a handful of people are in the know. But if the UK decided to spend their entire foreign aid budget in Commonwealth nations exclusively, the UK would become known as a major financier in their projects (projects that create much-needed jobs for citizens in developing nations) and the UK would gain recognition as a force for good in that country. PR like that you can’t buy from a public relations firm! It’s called, ‘Brand Loyalty’. Thenceforth expect UK companies to export more goods to each of those countries as disposable income rises among their population.
  10. Abolishing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) “The CAP costs British taxpayers twice over – once through subsidies paid to farmers and twice by keeping food prices artificially high. OECD data suggests EU farm prices are around 5% above world prices and our estimates based on this data suggest UK consumers pay around £2billion per year in higher prices due to the CAP.” AND: Abolishing the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) “The UK fishing industry could potentially double in size after Brexit, as the UK takes full control of a natural resource which currently is mostly harvested by EU boats. Estimates by Napier (2018) and others suggest a rise in catch of up to £700m-800m per year which with positive supply chain effects could see a total boost to output of around £3bn per year – already offsetting a third of the possible trade losses.”BrexitCentral

How’s That For a Few Benefits of the UK’s pending Brexit from the EU?

There are more benefits, of course. But for now, let’s agree that 3-years of Brexit dithering has cost the UK economy plenty and has negatively impacted countries whose economies depend on a healthy UK economy, and that it’s time for UK politicians to get their act together and deliver what ‘The People’ voted for in the June 23, 2016 referendum.

Whether you think ‘The People’ are right or wrong is wholly irrelevant. What matters, is democracy. And either the UK is a democratic nation or it isn’t. You can’t have it both ways.

So, let’s decide right now to make a success of Brexit and just get on with it.

Image courtesy of LondonThamesPort.co.uk

A New Era for the Commonwealth of Nations

by John Brian Shannon

As the United Kingdom leaves the European Union over the next few months, the historical and ongoing ties Britain has with the Commonwealth of Nations organization are expected to dramatically increase in importance.

In the decades since 1972 when the UK joined the European Community (EC) Britain’s primary engagement was with its EC partners, while its Commonwealth partnerships dwindled.

But a dramatic reversal is in the making.

The acting Queen of the United Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth, Elizabeth II recently approved her son Prince Charles to soon succeed her as the head of the Commonwealth of Nations organization, and also approved Prince Harry to be a Commonwealth youth ambassador.

Both appointments were warmly received by Commonwealth leaders at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government (GHOGM) meeting in London in April 2018.

It shows that the organization still values the contribution of the British Royal Family and seemingly wants to increase trade and political ties to the UK — almost as much as the UK wants to get cracking on trade matters with the 2.5 billion member bloc.

Rarely is there such a clear case of ‘Win-Win’ convergence in geopolitics, but this is a relationship that was born to succeed.

More on Commonwealth matters next week!


A Royal (and Fun for Everyone!) Wedding Today at Windsor Castle

In the meantime; Heartfelt congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who were married today at Windsor Castle. Harry now becomes the Duke of Sussex, while Meghan is henceforth the Duchess of Sussex.

Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle May 19, 2018

The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018.

They are a fascinating couple who are certain to make their very positive mark on the Commonwealth of Nations, on the United Kingdom, and on the rest of the Royal Family. Godspeed and good wishes to Harry and Meghan!

Why are we Talking About Russia and Syria Instead of Brexit?

by John Brian Shannon

A civil war has been raging inside Syria since 2010 — a conflict with roots back to the Western-backed ‘Arab Spring’ which left all those countries in MUCH WORSE CONDITION and if you believe the press reports, great atrocities were perpetrated by some or all sides in Arab Spring nations and continue to occur in the Syrian conflict.

No surprise there. There hasn’t been a civil war in history where heinous crimes haven’t been committed and they are often committed by more than one side. Syria is nothing special in that regard.

Not that we should ignore those events. Far from it!

But most Western politicians are of the mind that when such atrocities are committed they should be countered with an appropriate military strike directed against the suspected perpetrators of such attacks — to act as a deterrent to prevent future heinous attacks. Except that it doesn’t work.

It’s a very human response that is typical of non-military minds to think that a military counter-strike will accomplish anything, but combat-experienced military people know that war isn’t over until it’s over, and that never happens until there’s a clear winner.

Less than twelve months ago, the United States used cruise missile strikes to punish those Syrians who purportedly used chemical weapons in an attack against combatants, non-combatants, and any civilians who happened to be within range of the chemical bombs dropped by helicopter and here we are again contemplating a Western-backed missile attack against Syria for its suspected use of chemical weapons.

READ: Timeline of chemical weapons attacks in Syria (Washington Post)

Which proves that occasional cruise missile attacks by the United States against the Syrian military and against non-state actors in Syria, doesn’t work. Because as soon as we turn our backs they’re at it again. Check that timeline link above and remember that timeline only covers the chemical attacks we know about.


Parallels With the Vietnam War?

Prior to the United States becoming involved in the Vietnam conflict, heinous acts were suspected to occur and was one of the reasons used to justify American intervention.

As usual, it wasn’t long before every side — including the Americans — were receiving bad press for purported wartime atrocities during the Vietnam War. It was a war that lasted exactly 10,000 days and during that time every side was lambasted by the world media for certain usages of force.

‘Agent Orange’ (a chemical defoliant used to strip the leaves from trees and plants to allow better ground surveillance) was used by the Americans and it’s plausible that enemy combatants could have been in the area during spraying and may have received lethal doses of the stuff — yet the chemicals used by the other side were even worse for plants, jungle life, and humans alike.

In the end, the Vietnam War, like any other war, wasn’t over until it was over — counter-strikes for chemical weapons use notwithstanding.

Which is a different way of saying that occasional military strikes prior to full involvement by the Americans in Vietnam did nothing to prevent suspected chemical weapons use and other wartime atrocities perpetrated by the North Vietnamese Army and its sidekick the Viet Cong militia group, but neither did full engagement.


What’s the UK’s Role in the post-Brexit World?

It certainly isn’t policing Syria. Nor is it patrolling or intervening anywhere in the Mediterranean Sea region which by definition is in the EU’s sphere of influence as it’s the dominant superpower in the region. And other than helping to protect longtime ally Israel, the Americans have no legitimate business in the Med either.

Launching into nebulous encounters with Syria, Russia and China over suspected small-scale chemical weapons attacks in Syria is begging for trouble. The kind of trouble that gets shiny new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers sunk for no good reason.

The UK’s role in the world is changing and it must evolve ahead of the curve, not behind it.

First and foremost must be the protection of the United Kingdom, which has thrived under both NATO and EU protection. And thanks to the UK’s longtime relationship with the United States, if things had got past the point that the UK and EU acting together couldn’t handle a particular threat, the Americans would’ve come to our rescue. Thank you again, America!

But in less than 352 days the UK can no longer count on EU protection (nor should it expect any special treatment from the EU) and with America turning away from the world, it’s well past the time to take a full spectrum view of UK defence and capabilities.

And before you can do that, you need to define the role the military is expected to play.


Priorities

  1. Protection of the land, sea and airspace, over, in, and around, the United Kingdom.
  2. Protection of and mutual aid agreements with; Norway (because of its proximity to the UK) with NATO countries (still close to the UK) and with all Commonwealth of Nations members.
  3. Mutual aid agreements with *potential* Commonwealth nations.
  4. Mutual aid agreements with any country with which the UK *has* bilateral trade agreements.
  5. Mutual aid agreements with any country with which the UK is *exploring* bilateral trade agreements.
  6. Humanitarian assistance operations approved by the UN.

In short, just like a policeman, every country has its own ‘beat’ — the territory it needs to defend.

The UK’s beat in the post-Brexit era must be limited to operations and mutual aid to partner countries in the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific Ocean, otherwise the UK will need to purchase more aircraft carriers and other capital ships and severe UK budget cuts would be required to afford all that extra warfighting capacity.

I respectfully posit that protection of the UK, Norway and other NATO countries, and the Commonwealth of Nations is a sizable enough beat for the United Kingdom now, and will remain that way for many years to come.

Making 2018 the year to drill down to find what is, and what isn’t, of the utmost importance to the United Kingdom’s future.

Parts of the world that have only a passing socio-economic or military interest for the United Kingdom must remain off-limits, unless British taxpayers want to fund a military that is comparable to the U.S. military in size and scope.

Let the superpowers and the countries closest to the world’s various conflict zones assist those nations in crisis — Britain can’t be everywhere, cleaning-up everyone else’s messes.

Taking care of the UK, the Commonwealth, and upholding NATO commitments will be more than enough to keep the UK occupied for the balance of the 21st-century.