Posted by: aboutalbion | January 31, 2020

Au revoir, Brussels ……. Hey, Washington

Tonight, as my homeland achieves the first [nisi] stage of a divorce from the EU, my mood remains that of deep sadness. I admit to tears as the EU Parliament sang ‘For Auld Lang Syne’ last Wednesday.

I remind myself that I wish to leave the EU when the time is right, but (for me) the time is not right at the moment.

My sadness is compounded when I realise that this strategic decision has been taken with no public discussion of whether or not it is in our national leave the EU. No one seems to have thought it worthwhile reviewing why the UK joined the EEC (as it was then) on 1 January 1973.

To my mind, the UK has chosen a course of action that creates a strategic military vulnerability. With the UK veto withdrawn, the EU is now free to make plans for an EU Army in the coming decades. And an EU Air Force and Navy could reasonably be expected to follow in subsequent generations. It seems to me that the pace of development of this EU military capability might well be set as much by the degree of commitment of the US to NATO as by the perception of threats from Russia and China. And the current Brexit commentary from the UK government shows no awareness of this nascent military vulnerability.

I believe myself to be a realist, and, as a realist, I’m unable to see a “new dawn” for the UK (with an insolvent public purse) going solo as “Global Britain”. So far as I can see, it goes without saying that the UK has lost the ability as a naval military power to protect our shipping on the high seas.

I also believe myself to be an optimist. So I search the politico/religious sky for heralds of hope and crumbs of comfort for my homeland’s unsatisfactory geo-political situation. And among the many voices that propose replacing the UK’s close relationship with the EU by an upgraded relationship with the US, I’ve noted one suggestion that arrested my attention.

This trans-Atlantic suggestion is far more comprehensive than a ‘free trade agreement’ (which may or may not materialise around the end of 2020). I’ve just noted this outline for the development of a long-term future for a UK-US relationship.

The UK has a constitutional monarch, and our monarch serves as Head of a Commonwealth of Nations – a voluntary association of 53 states – which is often informally known as the ‘British Commonwealth’. The most recent state to join (Rwanda) did so in 2009. The most recent departure (Maldives) was in 2016.

The US is a republic with overseas territories, some of these are incorporated [that is, they are part of the US proper, eg Palmyra Atoll / Island] and some are unincorporated [that is, they are not fully part of the United States and not all aspects of the United States Constitution apply to them].

What is stopping the US requesting associate membership of the British Commonwealth? And at broadly the same time, what is stopping the UK petitioning to become an unincorporated territory of the US? This proposal has an attractive symmetry about it, a ‘quid pro quo’, if you will.

That’s just the bare bones of an outline of the intriguing suggestion. As I study it more closely, I may well post more on it in the coming months.

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