Britain's new Foreign Secretary and Trade Minister back CX recommendations

The UK's new Prime Minister is in the process of appointing her first Cabinet. There is already good news for CX and Commonwealth supporters, most notably in the appointments of Boris Johnson and Liam Fox.

Both are friends to Commonwealth Exchange and have written forewords to our reports. Here are key excerpts:

"It seems that almost all parts of the Commonwealth are brimming with a new energy and optimism, at precisely the time that the European Union is struggling. As we reconsider Britain’s place in the world, I want us to reconsider how we engage with Commonwealth peoples...

"...The UK has bonds of history, language, law, family and customs across the world and we would be foolish not to make more of these at this time of profound global economic revival."

- Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in his foreword to our report "How to Solve a Problem like a Visa"

"It may just be that the Commonwealth could be coming of age in the right way at the right time. It is a time to be bold."

 - Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, in his foreword to our report "The Commonwealth's Call to Duty"

Following the UK's vote to leave the EU, it is vital that the Commmonwealth is at the heart of our plans for trade, migration, security, and more. Find our full Brexit plan here.

Media wishing to arrange interviews or request a comment should email or call the media mobile listed here.

Craig Mackinlay MP calls for Brexit to offer fairer deal to Commonwealth citizens

Conservative MP for South Thanet Craig Mackinlay has cited the unfair deal Commonwealth citizens get from the UK among his reasons for supporting Brexit. Speaking in a Parliamentary debate about the UK's EU membership, Mr Mackinlay said:

"We have to recognise that trade has changed—that the world is now a global place and trade barriers have come down. A lot of these trade areas are good, friendly nations—Commonwealth nations. I always find it very strange that our friends—our kith and kin; our family—extract their wallets and purses and find, lo and behold, a note with a very familiar and loved face on it, but we deny them access to our country, and we are not allowed to speak to them on trade terms"

While Commonwealth Exchange does not take an institutional position on whether the UK should leave the EU, we do share Mr Mackinlay's frustrations, particularly on the issue of migration and visas, as highlighted in our report "How to Solve a Problem like a Visa" which shed light on the parlous state of Commonwealth migration and provided six practical proposals to improve the situation.

We have also published an award winning plan for what the UK should do if it were to leave the EU. Our proposals are based on a reinvigorated trading Commonwealth network. You can read it here.

Sir Paul Beresford MP calls for Commonwealth debate focussing on immigration

Sir Paul Beresford MP has called on the government to allow parliamentary time for a debate on the Commonwealth, focusing on immigration.

He asked the Leader of the House Chris Grayling the following question:

Sir Paul: Will my right hon. Friend persuade the Government to have a debate on the UK’s relationship with the Commonwealth, particularly the old Commonwealth? I have just returned from visiting New Zealand. It is definitely there and I am very conscious that, in our drive to reduce immigration, the UK is losing out on highly educated English-speaking people, generally graduates, who have very much to offer this nation in health, education, agriculture, banking, research, the armed forces and—dare I say it?—even rugby. There are kith and kin issues with such nations. They have stood with us—and they continue to stand with us today—in major and less major wars. We need to recognise that.

The somewhat disappointing answer was:

Chris Grayling: Of course, we try to maintain a sensible balance in our immigration system. It is necessary, right and proper to have controls. At the same time, we have routes for experienced people to come to this country and work. Many from Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the Commonwealth have done so over many years. I am sure that Home Office Ministers will have heard my hon. Friend’s comments and that they will do their best to take as pragmatic an approach as they can, but he will understand that there have to be limitations—our electors expect it.

Unfortunately the government is still failing to recognise the damaging impact that our immigration rules are having on those from the Commonwealth seeking to live, work, and contribute in the UK.

We highlighted some of these issues and made 6 pragmatic proposals for improving the situation in our report "How to Solve a Problem Like a Visa." We encourage the government to implement these proposals as soon as possible.

New MP James Cleverley quizzes Chancellor on Commonwealth exports

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.

He asked:

"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!

Commonwealth Visas & Immigration debate in Parliament

We are delighted to announce that Andrew Rosindell MP and CX Advisory Board member has called a Parliamentary debate on Commonwealth immigration and visas.  It is being held in Westminster Hall on Tuesday, 27 January at 2:30pm.  This builds on our report launched last November: How to Solve a Problem like a Visa - the unhappy state of Commonwealth immigration in the UK

The report received world-wide media coverage which you can see here. The foreword was written by Boris Johnson, who highlighted the vital role that Commonwealth immigration plays in maintaining and enhancing London as the “Greatest city on Earth”.

A debate on Commonwealth immigration has not been called since 2008 and we hope that it receives attention from both sides of the House. The recommendations which we highlighted would create new opportunities for the citizens of the Commonwealth in the UK. This is supported by Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, who told our report:

“Britain’s strength has for centuries been based on its position as an open, trading nation, with strong connections across the globe.  It is deeply worrying that Britain is shutting out people from Commonwealth countries who want to come here to work”

The debate itself is open to the general public to attend and is also being streamed live online at Parliament TV and will also be uploaded the next day here. It is a fantastic opportunity to witness firsthand the innovative work which we are doing to better the lives of the people from the Commonwealth.