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‘The Empire Strikes Back’: Back to The Commonwealth

ReachExtra · Photos: Fran Montes

Brexit: Out of the EU and back to the Commonwealth

By the end of this month, we may finally know the terms of the UK’s divorce from the European Union.

Throughout the 2016 referendum campaign and still, Brexiteer eyes have been on the British Commonwealth as an alternative favoured commercial partner to replace the EU.

The Commonwealth is, of course, the heir to the British Empire on which it was once said the sun never set and which occupied at one time or the other a quarter of the world’s surface.

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Map of the British Empire

Was it therefore an omen that for a few days this month, the flag of the Commonwealth replaced that of the EU in all official buildings in Gibraltar?

Recently, the Gibraltarian barrister Charles Gomez, who is an Honorary Professor of International Law at the University of Cadiz, gave a lecture to undergraduates on the legal, political, strategic and commercial links between the UK and its overseas territories and the Commonwealth as a whole.

The juridical connections between the mother country and its old empire are still surprisingly strong, added to which, of course, English is the established international language of commerce.

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Professor Charles Gomez, Barrister at Law

Among the “Daughters of the Empire” are such economic giants as India and Canada closely followed by countries such as Australia, New Zealand and then dozens of other territories throughout the globe.

Gomez described how a multitude of smaller territories fed into the City of London, the world’s financial hub.

Other islands still provide the UK with staging harbours straight down the Atlantic to the Antarctic where untold resources remain to be exploited.

Across the Mediterranean, Gibraltar to the British Sovereign Bases in Cyprus, give the UK strategic projection into North Africa and the Middle East.

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Commonwealth flag flies at the border

Even the other economic superpower that is China is now partly fuelled by Hong Kong which until 1997 was a British Crown Colony and still retains strong links to London.

Charles Gomez called his lecture “The Empire Strikes Back”. As the UK distances itself from the EU, all eyes are on the Commonwealth.

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