I want to take this opportunity to send my best wishes to all my friends across the Commonwealth on the happy occasion of Commonwealth Day 2018.
As we enter the last year of our membership of the European Union, I look forward with enthusiasm and belief in a prosperous future for the United Kingdom, and a reinvigorated and committed relationship with the Commonwealth with whom we have such a long, shared history.
I have been an advocate and supporter of the Commonwealth network - perhaps one of the globe’s oldest networks - for all my political life. This diverse network spans across all the continents of the world, and I see this as an ever more relevant body, a body that can add its collective voice and collective action to the global challenges that all its members and the world face.
It contains several of the world’s fastest growing economies that will shape the global economy of the future, including India, South Africa, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore, and five members of the G20.
We must press for the Commonwealth to be utilised fully to help to lift the prosperity of all its members through increased free and fair trade.
I would like to see the Commonwealth become a leading voice in the global economy, working to liberalise trade and break down barriers for international business
The discussion on the development and strengthening of the Commonwealth institutions should be a public one, as we are all interested parties in the future of the Commonwealth. Every member of the Commonwealth should play their part, inspiring the debate to shape its future.
We will need to take bold and vital decisions, decisions that will shape the role of this unique organisation and help it to realise its potential; to forge associations and identity with the youth of the Commonwealth, so that it may have more impact in the future. None of us should shy away from accepting the challenge.
Let us celebrate old and new relationships on this Commonwealth Day, and look forward to the day when the United Kingdom can proudly stand with colleagues in the Commonwealth fraternity and develop our historical links to our communal benefit. That day is only a year away!