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Blair & Brown loathed the vital, democratic Commonwealth

. . .The Commonwealth never fitted in with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s modernising vision. Under New Labour, British foreign policy focused on two objectives. Blair was determined to place Britain in what he called “the heart of Europe”, while simultaneously ensuring that we did nothing to offend the United States. During this period there was little sense of a distinctively British foreign policy, let alone a distinctively British set of interests. In the age of Cool Britannia, traditional British allegiances and identities were seen as xenophobic, if not racist. There was no sense of the virtue, let alone the magnificence, of British history.

Yet it is not too late to rebuild the Commonwealth, as a strikingly counter-intuitive pamphlet, launched at today’s Tory conference by the former shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram brilliantly argues. Ancram’s central thesis is that, far from being out of date, as Left-wing ideologists naturally assumed, the Commonwealth is actually a remarkably modern organisation.

Indeed there is no international organisation that is more relevant to the complex and networked world in which we now live. It is the slavish relationship with the United States, and the dogmatic assumption that British national interest means signing up to a federal Europe, which now look hopelessly outmoded.

The idea that the Commonwealth is antiquated is absurd. It is a free association of 53 sovereign states, making up slightly more than 30 per cent of the world’s population, from every major continent and world religion. It costs us just 20p per head a year, a fraction of the £52 per person absorbed by the European Union. More than half of its 1.7 billion citizens are under 25 and its guiding principles are open, humane and democratic. Its membership includes some of the most fast-growing and significant countries in the world – India, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and (though Tony Blair and co did their best to forget this) Britain.

Peter Oborne's whole provocative piece is here.

So, remind us why the politicians have put all our financial eggs in the EU?

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