Lords call on Government to use Commonwealth meeting to reinvigorate the UK's relationship with Commonwealth countries
The House of Lords International Relations Committee welcomes the Government's hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in April this year. The Committee urges the Government to maximize the opportunities offered by the occasion, to bolster relations with Commonwealth countries ahead of Brexit and to raise concerns over discriminatory laws.
The Committee met with Government officials, Tim Hitchens (Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Summit Unit, Cabinet Office) and Richard Oppenheim (UK Commonwealth Envoy, Foreign and Commonwealth Office), to discuss preparations and priorities. The Committee welcomes the renewed commitment to the Commonwealth which the preparations for the Summit imply. However, the Government should be clearer about the potential benefits and new business opportunities, for the UK and other members states, which greater engagement with the Commonwealth could provide. During its term as Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth following the Summit, the Government must ensure commitments made at the meeting are delivered and positive outcomes are achieved. The Committee also expressed the hope that countries which had left the Commonwealth—the Maldives, The Gambia and Zimbabwe—might re-join.
Chairman of the Committee Lord Howell of Guildford said:
“Britain must re-shape its international relations in changed world circumstances, regardless of Brexit. This meeting is the perfect opportunity to reinvigorate relations with Commonwealth members, and strengthen our diplomatic, trade, defence and security ties across the network.
“We were pleased to hear of the Government's clear commitments to the meeting and look forward to the positive outcomes it is set to deliver.”