After a long campaign the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union through a historic referendum on 23rd June. The decision to leave will have ramifications for all aspects of UK policy and politics. While the country comes together to chart a course forward there is a need to take stock of the global implications and in particular those for the Commonwealth. Multilateral policy, trade, investment, migration and development could all be impacted by ‘Brexit’. For the Commonwealth there are perhaps three key questions that need to be explored:
1. What is the impact on and opportunities for the United Kingdom’s relations with the other 52 members of the Commonwealth now that it has decided to leave the EU?
2. What are the challenges and opportunities that this creates for the Commonwealth network itself?
3. How does the Commonwealth want to engage with the European Union through the UK’s Brexit negotiations and beyond?
The answers to these questions have the potential to provide the basis of new strategies of engagement for the Commonwealth as the Brexit negotiations unfold. Ensuring that the Commonwealth is able to develop and express coherent views and that these are also fed into the UK’s foreign policy agenda is crucial for the network and the UK. The RCS is therefore seeking to build a Commonwealth conversation around Brexit and engagement with the EU with the objective of ensuring Commonwealth voices are listened to.
As a starting point the RCS will begin this conversation with a series of debates with Commonwealth-accredited institutions and organisations, with High Commissions and members of the Diplomatic Corps, and through consultation with branches of the Royal Commonwealth Society, affiliated organisations and its broader networks including young people. The RCS hopes that this will ensure that the Commonwealth engages with the evolving UK-EU relationship and remains ready for the challenges and opportunities that this will create.
Read our report on part 1 of the Commonwealth Conversation or join it by leaving your comment below.