chapter  16
11 Pages

Brexit and the Commonwealth

Fantasy meets reality
ByPeg Murray-Evans

The Commonwealth was a prominent feature of Eurosceptic discourse in the lead-up to and aftermath of the June 2016 referendum on United Kingdom (UK) membership of the European Union (EU). Tensions between the role of the Commonwealth in UK political discourse and the material realities of trade relations with the group will be played out as the government's post-Brexit trade policy is enacted. This chapter highlights the important place of the Commonwealth in contemporary Eurosceptic discourse. It considers trajectories of UK–Commonwealth relations since 1945 in historical perspective. The chapter outlines the likely future of UK–Commonwealth relations in the context of Brexit. Despite the claims of Commonwealth enthusiasts that geography has become insignificant in the contemporary global economy, absent the ties of empire, the trade patterns of the UK and its former colonies have for the most part become much more regionally focused.