"The moment we [Africans] lost our languages was also the moment we lost our bodies, our gold, diamonds, copper, coffee, tea." - Ngugi wa Thiong'o

EU Referendum: voting to leave - from the perspective of a commonwealth citizen

On Thursday 23 June 2016, a referendum will be held in the United Kingdom (UK) to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union (EU). Citizens of The Commonwealth countries who are resident in the UK would also be entitled to vote.

By the way, The Commonwealth countries are mainly former territories of the defunct British Empire. In my opinion, Commonwealth is just a glorified name for territory.

However, there are about 53 independent countries, spread across the six continents of the world, which make up The Commonwealth. Such countries include; Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, etc.

The population of The Commonwealth is approximately 2.3 billion, which is almost 30% of the world population. Moreover, The Commonwealth produced a nominal GDP of US$10.45 trillion in 2014.

Anyway, before the wealth aspect of The Commonwealth became uncommon, the citizens of member countries enjoyed a lot of privileges. For instance, citizens of a member state do not require travelling visas to visit another member country.

In other words, an Indian national, for example, wouldn’t need to apply for a visa to visit Canada, Nigeria or Britain. Moreover, The Commonwealth citizens had access to free medical care wherever it is offered, especially in Britain and Canada.

Furthermore, The Commonwealth citizens pay the same tuition fees as the home students. Where scholarships are available, they are extended to every Commonwealth citizen.

Even job opportunities, professional and menial, were readily available to The Commonwealth citizens first before any other. In Britain there were no immigration authorities chasing people around. You only need to prove that you are a Commonwealth citizen.

That was when anyone can proudly say; I am a Commonwealth citizen. Not anymore.

Really, the privileges that The Commonwealth citizens enjoyed started whittling down when Britain turned its back on The Commonwealth in favour of greater EU. Our opportunities and privileges are now given to the poorer members of the EU.

In 1987, the earliest I could remember; most Commonwealth countries started applying for visa to visit Britain. Our job opportunities, health care, educational privileges, etc were gradually withdrawn to cater for the increasing immigration from the poorer eastern EU countries.

Hence, come 23/June/2016 I will be voting for Britain TO LEAVE the EU. I equally urge all The Commonwealth citizens living in the UK to vote as me in order to bring back the glory days of The Commonwealth.

Hopefully when Britain leaves the EU, it will return to The Commonwealth and restores the privileges that were taken from us for the poorer EU members. I trust I won’t be accused of being bias. I am only stating my INTEREST, which is what politics is all about.

All the same, I also ask the rest of the British people to vote TO LEAVE as it’s my belief that Britain will gain more in a strong and united Commonwealth than what it currently gains from the EU.

For instance, the VOTE REMAIN campaigners often mention that remaining in the EU will add more trade for UK businesses. I don’t think it will add more businesses than what The Commonwealth can offer. Let’s look at the numbers.

Agreed that the GDP of EU (US$18.5 trillion) is greater than the GDP ($10.45) of The Commonwealth; but the EU market is saturated. Conversely, there are many emerging markets within The Commonwealth of nations.

According to World Economics, “The Commonwealth of Nations is growing rapidly in comparison to the ailing Eurozone; The Commonwealth overtakes Eurozone share of world output.”

And with a population of approx. 2.3 billion it won’t be long before the GDP of The Commonwealth surpasses that of the EU with a population of 508 million.

While the EU GDP growth rate languishes fewer than 3%, “the Indian economy expanded 7.9 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2016,” according to Trading Economics.

In fact, with a population of 1.252 billion and its expanding economy, India alone can offer more trade opportunities to Britain than what the EU can offer. It is very clear that Britain will be better off in The Commonwealth than in the EU.