Following George Osborne's statement on Greece yesterday afternoon, James Cleverley MP took the opportunity to press the Chancellor on ensuring the Commonwealth is at the heart of the UK's plan for exports, growth, and diversification away from an over-reliance on the European Union.
"I cannot see an outcome to the current Greek situation that will not have a detrimental effect on the British economy. Will he therefore assure this House that as part of the long-term economic plan he will include a commitment to expand and extend our trading relationships globally, particularly to fast-growth Commonwealth economies, to help spread our risk?"
Encouragingly, the Chancellor replied:
"My hon. Friend makes a very important point. Britain is overly dependent on its exports to the rest of the EU. About 50% of our exports go to the EU. We have been working very hard to expand our exports to fast-growing economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Although, in general, UK export performance has been quite disappointing in recent years, that is principally because of the weakness of the European economy. Our export performance to many of these emerging economies has been very much better, and we want to build on that—particularly, of course, our links with the Commonwealth countries."
James is a new MP representing the constituency of Braintree. It's great to see one of the new intake standing up for the Commonwealth and making sure Britain doesn't neglect this vital network!