NEWS

Brexit Ministers Want To Build An 'Empire 2.0' With The African Commonwealth

Some Brexit ministers believe that renewed trade ties with African countries can offset the losses incurred by leaving the European Union.

07/03/2017 13:19 SAST | Updated 07/03/2017 13:24 SAST
Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP / Getty Images
British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, left, and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, right.

Empire 2.0 is the name given by some Whitehall officials to a plan to build new trade ties with the African Commonwealth. According to the Sunday Times international trade secretary Liam Fox and other Brexit ministers want to negotiate new trade deals with African countries as soon as Thursday and Friday.

"Britain plans to promise all developing nations that their trading relationships with the UK will stay the same or improve after Brexit, guaranteeing that they will not get worse. Ministers want to go further with African nations, however, and start talks to allow Britain to work more closely with an African free trade zone," the Times reported.

The Commonwealth agreed in 2011 to create an African free trade zone, which includes South Africa.

The unfortunate moniker was reportedly coined by some skeptical government officials who were worried that these Commonwealth deals were too high a priority. The United Kingdom is scrambling to secure trade deals with numerous trading partners after it formally announced that is will be leaving the European Union.

Other political leaders have warned that "Empire 2.0" has no hope of dampening the effects of a hard Brexit. Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: "Trade with our friends in the Commonwealth is important but (Foreign Secretary) Boris (Johnson) is deluding himself if he thinks this will replace trade with our European allies. That idea is for the birds. The government can think whatever they want but you cannot have a profitable trade policy with a hard Brexit."

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