Report: The UK and the Commonwealth – Where Are We At and Where Can We Go?

To read the report click HERE or on the image below.

This latest BFPG report looks at the links between the UK and the Commonwealth and provides suggestions as to what a post-Brexit role could look like, in the context of the challenges the Commonwealth has faced around its relevance and effectiveness.

The report calls for a realistic yet constructive UK approach to the Commonwealth. In the UK, discussion of the Commonwealth is too often polarised: either the Commonwealth is seen as the saviour of all the UK’s problems, or it is seen as a useless imperial organisation. This report highlights the areas of current and potential success, as well as identifying failures, restrictions and debunking myths.

The report, “The UK and the Commonwealth- Where Are We At and Where Can We Go?” says that the Commonwealth enhances UK foreign policy in a number of ways, through trade, influence, and to a lesser extent defence. Significantly the Commonwealth’s value does not stem solely from government to government relations, nor multilateral agreements. By building good relations at all levels, including business to business and people to people, Commonwealth countries can build significant goodwill that can contribute towards successful bilateral relations and indeed agreements. Not only does it do so today, but it offers significant potential for the future. When put in context it is not nor should it be the first priority of the UK’s foreign policy, but to ignore and neglect it would be an equally damaging move.

Report author Edward Elliott says, “The Commonwealth is an extremely complex organisation, which makes it very difficult for a lot of people to understand. Despite the polarisation of the topic in popular discussion, it retains a lot of support here in the UK, but it is crucial this support is matched with appropriate knowledge. This paper seeks to be an informed and accessible overview that looks at the opportunities in the Commonwealth without shying away from addressing its failings.”

To read online click HERE or on the image below

For a printable pdf version click HERE

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the BFPG. The BFPG is an independent not for profit organisation that encourages constructive, informed and considered opinions without taking an institutional position on any issue.
Edward Elliott

Edward Elliott is a Senior Associate at the British Foreign Policy Group.