Britain doesn’t need Europe. Sure, it may no longer have an empire, but the UK still has close cultural and political ties with its former colonies. Now that Great Britain is finally breaking away from Europe, it will be free to renew and deepen those ties.
At least, that’s the argument from Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, one of the architects of Brexit. He wants Britain to develop closer links with the English-speaking “Anglosphere” countries, including America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
We had a comment from Mike, who seems to agree. He argues that leaving the EU will give Britain the opportunity to forge a closer relationship with Commonwealth countries such as Australia. Could this be a chance to resurrect the glory of the old days, when the map was covered in pink bits (except, this time, without the moral baggage of colonialism)?
To get a response, we spoke to Kevin Rudd, two-time Prime Minister of Australia (2007-2010, 2013), at Friends of Europe’s recent ‘State of Europe’ roundtable event in Brussels. What would he say to Mike?
We also had a comment from Yanni, who argued that Australia should be seen a model when it came to immigration. During the UK’s Brexit debate, Australia’s immigration policy (with its point-based system) was indeed often held up as a successful example that other countries should follow.
In addition, the so-called “Pacific Solution” (in which asylum seekers are transported to off-shore detention centres on Pacific islands) is sometimes cited as a possible solution to the EU’s refugee crisis. This policy was largely discontinued during Rudd’s first term in office (and critics still argue the system facilitates human rights abuses), but was reintroduced after he left government (and, in fact, he supported it during his second term as Prime Minister).
So, how would Kevin Rudd respond to Yanni? Are there lessons Europe could learn from Australia’s experience with immigration and asylum?
Will Brexit lead to stronger ties between Australia and Great Britain? Or will the UK be at the ‘back of the queue’ for a trade deal with Commonwealth countries? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!