Opinion: The importance of our Commonwealth
PUBLISHED: 08:00 09 December 2018
Last Friday, you may have noticed the flag of the Commonwealth of Nations proudly flying from Havering Town Hall.
This was to welcome Members of Parliament from Australia, South Africa, Cayman Islands, St.Helena and Jersey that I hosted for a visit to Romford, which included meetings at the Town Hall, a walkabout in Romford Market and a visit to St. Edward’s Church.
The Commonwealth’s Charter, principles and core values give countries across the world a basis for good governance and leadership.
Democracy, freedom of expression, separation of powers, rule of law and the English language are the core attributes to these successful and developing nations.
By undertaking parliamentary diplomacy across the Commonwealth, I see first-hand the importance of bilateral dialogue between nations, which is more important than ever now the UK is leaving the EU and rebuilding relationships elsewhere. There is a strong desire to work together within the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign states.
This is all happening at a time where the EU Commission’s own reports admit 90pc of global trade will soon be conducted outside of EU.
I have argued that the Withdrawal Agreement does not deliver the Brexit that the people of Havering voted for.
This is why locking the UK into a “single customs territory”, with no clear leaving date and ability to unilaterally leave puts us in weakened position, unable to utilise the promising trade agreements the Department for International Trade have been working on for over two years.
Now is not the time to be fooled. EU leaders want to punish us for leaving and send a message to other EU Member States who dare to think about doing the same!
As I reminded the prime minister in the House of Commons last month, Britain voted to cut off the tentacles of the EU over the UK. So, I urge Theresa May to dump this bad deal and take Britain in a new direction!