Alison Watson, David Howell of the Royal Commonwealth Society and Richard Bourne respond to articles by Philip Murphy of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and Ian JackPhilip Murphy suggests that the Commonwealth is or shortly will be irrelevant and perhaps he is right in relation to Brexit (The myth of the Commonwealth, 10 April). But he misses out a different perspective put movingly by Lenny Henry in his recent TV programme about his Jamaican roots. Henry recognised that the concept means little or nothing to some people while others had benefited from educational opportunities so felt they belonged more. But if the Commonwealth is a “club” then surely there is value in mutual obligation, such as the need to do more to help after the recent hurricane which devastated at least one island and damaged more.
• With regard to Ian Jack’s comments on the Commonwealth (Trade after Brexit will lay bare our fantasy of empire, 7 April), no sensible person could imagine that the Commonwealth network of nations would be an immediate substitute for access to today’s mature markets of Europe and the Americas. But Mr Jack seems to have overlooked that the largest expansion of middle-income markets is going on right now in Asia and Africa, that most of the world’s growth over the next three decades is going to be in what used to be called the developing countries, and that most of the world’s population lives in Asia. The Commonwealth may not be the only way for the UK into this new world, but as a network of like-minded countries it would be pretty silly not to build the best possible relations with its 53 members, with several more wanting to be associated with it.
President, The Royal Commonwealth Society