Is the Commonwealth a Real Alternative to UK Membership of the European Union?

Commonwealth UK flagAdvocates of a UK exit from the European Union sometimes propose the Commonwealth as a natural alternative, often on the grounds that its members share historical and cultural ties with the UK. Maria Mut Bosque, Lecturer in International Law and EU Law at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, revisits the UK’s relationship to the Commonwealth, how it was affected by EU membership, and what roles it might play in the Brexit debate.

If there is a British political group that is united in its desire for a UK exit of the EU, and instead advocates a return to the UK’s Commonwealth roots, it is UKIP. UKIP’s 2015 manifesto clearly stated:

“The British exit will be a huge relief for many other EU members, who have known all along that the vast majority of the British people find the idea of political union with the rest of Europe abhorrent.

Our leaving will set them free to have full political union […] and set us free to make the most of all our links with the Commonwealth, with North America, Australasia, much of Africa, the Indian subcontinent and all the other countries where English is the first or second language, as well as, of course, with Europe and the EU itself”.

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