“Since the war I have stressed altogether five main objectives. The true union of Europe; the union of government with science; the power of government to act rapidly and decisively, subject to parliamentary control; the effective leadership of government to solve the economic problem by use of the wage-price mechanism at the two key-points of the modern industrial world; and a clearly defined purpose for a movement of humanity to ever higher forms.”
These words are not those of a 21st century European Union official nor of a 21st century British MP arguing for the UK to remain in the EU in spite of a majority of British people voting to the contrary. These are the words of Oswald Mosley, the founder of British Fascism and an unrepentant racist until his dying day.
Before one thinks that this implies that those in Brussels or London who wish to keep Britain in the European Union are fascists or racists, this is certainly not the case. What it does imply is that one of the elephants in the room when discussing multi-cultural Britain’s membership of a union which encourages trade and freedom of movement among countries belonging to the world’s whitest continent, at the exclusion of trade and human-to-human connectivity opportunities with those in the multi-racial and religiously diverse Commonwealth of Nations – there exists a clear undertone that British should turn its back on diversity and instead dive headlong into ever closer union with the least culturally and economically diverse region of the planet.
Compared to the European Union, the Commonwealth of Nations is a more economically and culturally diverse place, but paradoxically one that through the force of history, represents nations throughout the world that tend to be either familiar with or fluent in the English language and familiar with the English Common Law.
This means that at a civic and linguistic level, there is much which binds the United Kingdom to the Commonwealth. The same cannot be said of European countries that have different legal systems, languages and histories to that of Britain. Thus, at a fundamental level, Britain has a history of imperialism and of traditionally white skin in common with the great powers of the EU, but little more. This is certainly nothing to be proud of…unless of course, one is an adherent to the politics of Oswald Mosley.
It is also true that whilst many British people have family relations in countries like Jamaica, Pakistan, Nigeria and Malaysia, these same people when travelling to many EU states would be judged as insufficiently British because of the colour of their skin. Whilst racism certainly does exist in Britain, most people in the UK are fully aware that there is nothing unusual about being a British-Pakistani, or a British-Trinidadian, etc. In Britain, that which is accepted as part of daily life is for many in the EU, something that is “alien” or worse yet “exotic”.
Arguments about Britain in a union with Europe versus a Britain at one with the Commonwealth are as old as arguments about UK membership of the European Economic Community (as the EU was known prior to 1992). But whilst many in 1970s Britain viewed the Commonwealth through the prism of white Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders or white South Africans, as some of the non-white Commonwealth countries are today among the most economically dynamic in the world, in 2019, a UK relationship with The Commonwealth means a relationship built on both economic and cultural diversity.
As such, Britain has at its fingertips, a Commonwealth that is more economically important than ever before and more dynamic than ever before. Whilst it cannot be denied that for many Commonwealth countries from Pakistan to South Africa and from Singapore to Nigeria, China is generally considered a more valued economic partner than Britain, this should not be seen as anything but an opportunity to do more in a future unconstrained by the old men and women of Brussels.
As Italy itself has expressed disappointment with its own EU membership whilst looking to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Britain has a clear advantage over Italy as a country with historic ties to many of the Commonwealth members that are already part of the Belt and Road. Likewise, a post-EU Britain could achieve unique access to an affluent Chinese market that most EU leaders have been reticent to embrace, thus giving British producers a dynamic path into a growing and more forward thinking export market than the EU. Likewise, the inflow of goods from both the Commonwealth and China would help British consumers to save money that would have otherwise been spent on needlessly expensive European imports.
While the old fascist Mosley saw European unity as an opportunity to shield Britain from the cultures it had ruled over, a modern, an outward looking Britain at peace with its own valuable multi-cultural characteristics should turn in peace to a Commonwealth that was so disgracefully abandoned in the 1970s. Simultaneous to this, a post-Brexit Britain should not hesitate to team up with a Chinese economic giant that is already fuelling sustainable growth in multiple Commonwealth members.
Whilst Mosley felt that ‘white makes right’, the reasonable argument is that strength, peace and social harmony can be derived through diverse cultural and economic connectivity. In this sense, Brexit presents Britain with an opportunity to culturally, materially and even spiritually benefit from leaving the tired and stagnant European Union.