Matthew D'Ancona writing in the 'Standard' this week on the inevitability of a Referendum, said
My sense is that the voters — about 50 per cent — who wish to leave do so not because they regard the EU as big and scary but precisely the opposite: as it has grown in size, it has diminished in relevance. It is as naff as a malfunctioning Betamax recorder. The danger is not colonisation by Eurocrats and the treachery of British collaborateurs; the danger is the EU’s obsolescence.
And it's this realisation, that the EU is actually past it's sell-by date, a useful Derby & Joan club for moribund economies but not the place for a dynamic nation like the UK, that now needs reinforcing. The EU isn't the future, it's the past. It's working population is ageing and shrinking, and the most it can aspire to in the future is second-rate economic status. Economist Ruth Lea points at the alternative;
As the forces of 21st century globalisation gather pace, the Commonwealth countries are expected to grow in relative importance, while continental Europe continues its relative decline. And there are sound business reasons to consider these countries as trading partners. In the longer term, the UK needs to shift its focus from a relatively stagnant Europe to the world’s future growth markets.
The potential advantages of a Commonwealth Free Trade Association are enormous; as the Royal Commonwealth Society say:-
A study commissioned for the CHOGM in 1997 found that Commonwealth economies experienced an average of ten to fifteen percent lower costs in doing business with another Commonwealth nation than with a non-member state. The various shared attributes created what the study’s authors named the ‘Commonwealth Effect.’
If the Commonwealth today were an economic bloc, it would be equal in size to the United States; it would have thirteen of the worlds fastest growing economies; it would possess most of the world’s leading knowledge economies outside of the US; it would have one third of the world’s population; and would represent forty percent of the membership of the World Trade Organisation.
With an overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon commercial ethos of 'a fair Go' and 'Can Do' rather than a Latin legalistic hell of bureaucracy and ineptitude, the world's fastest growing middle classes (the driver of consumer-led growth), and in many cases a common legal and commercial framework the manifold advantages of hitching our wagon to the Commonwealth couldn't be clearer.