Mr Speaker, I am not a British citizen but I am a permanent resident in the United Kingdom. We are a member of the Commonwealth and so a Ghanaian student in UK has the right to vote. They are not like us that citizens only vote as it is in article 42 of our 1992 Constitution. There is nothing wrong. Even if a Ghanaian student is doing just a one year course, he or she has the right to vote in the UK.
Mr Speaker, to the salient point, I think that those who campaigned by saying that Britain could save £350 million a week if they left the EU mounted a deceptive campaign because that is not true. It is common knowledge in the UK today that Boris Johnson lied to people. Mr Speaker, did we not hear when people said that what he told the Queen was improper, and the courts agreed? So, this is not an issue.
Secondly, all of a sudden, everybody who is a citizen of Europe could live, work and benefit from the UK was becoming a burden on them.
Indeed, the citizens of the European countries that are not economically well endowed had their citizens basically flooding the UK because it was a better place in terms of economic prosperity. This was becoming an issue for them to deal with.
Mr Speaker, but their situation is not different from ours. It is not the case that in this country we have people complaining about other citizens from West Africa and at the same time we are talking about integration and being able to trade freely among ourselves. We want a common currency yet when we find a citizen of another West African country trading or doing business here, we take issues against them. This was exactly what was happening in the UK. They thought; how could a person from France all of a sudden become like a citizen and enjoy everything else?
Mr Speaker, is it not the same case in South Africa where sadly South Africans would burn down shops belonging to Nigerians and claim that their jobs have been taken over? Mr Speaker, it is not different but the only thing is that they are doing it in a civilised way, that a law should be passed, that they are no longer part of the EU and if a person is from France, that person cannot enjoy the same rights as a British.
Mr Speaker, it is ironic that the West made us believe that the way to
prosperity is to liberalise and open our doors so that anybody from anywhere could come and help us, yet the two key proponents of those theories; United States of America (US) and UK are now practising the highest level of protectionism.
President Trump is on it in America saying that everything that is not American is not good enough. Britain is on it through Brexit, and guess what, in this country, we are now the new champions looking at it from the angle that the only way this country can develop is for us to allow unbridled integration of everything. I am not saying it is not a good idea, but let us learn from Britain. Otherwise, I am sure one day, somebody would say -- [Interruption.] It has happened before under the Aliens Compliance Order. I am sure those were the things that led to somebody waking up one day and saying that some people should leave this country because they were taking our jobs.
So Mr Speaker, the Statement is very apt. There are lessons for Ghana. As for the economic lessons that we may not get for trade, to be honest, there is not much we gain from this relationship today. I say the amount of money Tullow Oil, which is a British company extracts from Ghana is
many folds bigger than whatever Britain gives us in terms of aid. How much money does Britain give us? But Tullow Oil's operations on our oil fields is huge, the same way Cosmos's operations on our oil fields get hundredfold of money. What they give us is peanut.
Let us learn out of this. It is important. I must commend former President Kufuor and others. We are never going to turn our backs on our traditional allies; the West and other things, but I am sure if China or Russia brings something that is more important to solve our problems, let us not shut the door on them. Today, we benefit more from health in terms of medical personnel from Cuba than Britain. Is it not the case? How many British medical officers are in this country helping us? But Cuba which is under sanctions is able to do that. So international diplomacy has changed.
We should never go to the table as novices, that they are our colonial masters. I cannot blame them for anything. In fact, I do not even believe that they were wrong at all times because, at a point in time, it was Africans who were arresting and selling their own brothers to the Europeans. So they did come here, arrested our people and took all of them away. In any case, if you go to
the British High Commission and American Embassy today, you would see a long queue of people who are still trying to leave, not because anybody is forcing them to leave. They would want to leave by themselves.
So Mr Speaker, Brexit is a very important case study for all of us. Whether they would be able to leave under the terms or not, we live to see. But even if they leave, it would not affect trade with Ghana so much. Whatever Britain needs from Ghana, they would continue to get from us. Rather, we should begin to re-assess ourselves that if they eventually leave and come back for trade negotiations, we should negotiate a better deal now than what it used to be when we were negotiating under the European condition.
Mr Speaker, I believe it would have been a tragedy if this Statement was prevented from being read. By your wisdom and ruling, you allowed this Statement. I think it is a very good thing. It might not affect the right of Ghanaians in the United Kingdom. If one is Ghanaian living legitimately in Britain, none of the Brexit proposals would make him turn back as is happening in America. If one lives and works genuinely there, nobody would take that right away. I believe Britain cherishes the relationship between us,
Ghana cherishes that relationship as well and they would do everything to protect it. It is the responsibility and right of the British to decide whether they are in the European Union and what they want. It should be the responsibility and our right to decide to be part of any regional integration and what we get out of it. If we want single currency, we should be interested in what we get out of it.
Britain was in the European Union but refused to use the Euro. They continue to use the Pound. Somebody said it is because they have always one leg in and one leg out. So not much would change. We are told that our economy would take a little bit of heat, but eventually, this is a country that has colonised over one hundred countries and till today, nobody is at war with them. They have managed to keep themselves safe before. I do not think an exit from the European Union alone would damage anything. Britain is a very resilient country. Whatever they do, let us take the opportunity to extract our own interest when that happens, whether they are able to leave or not. I think Brexit is a very good case study for international diplomacy and international economic relations. If they get it wrong, we would know what to do the next time.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.