Repub­li­cans call for AusExit from Bri­tain

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Jonathan Pearl­man in Syd­ney

AUS­TRALIA’S repub­li­can move­ment says mem­ber­ship has surged in the wake of the Brexit vote, as Aus­tralians ques­tion the ben­e­fits of be­ing part of “lit­tle Bri­tain”.

An “AusExit” cam­paign, in­clud­ing calls to re­move the Union Jack from the flag and re­place the Queen as head of state, has gained mo­men­tum in re­cent days.

Peter FitzSi­mons, the chair­man of the Aus­tralian Repub­li­can Move­ment, said the country had be­longed to the Bri­tish em­pire, but his­toric ties be­tween the na­tions had be­come less rel­e­vant be­cause “Great Bri­tain barely ex­ists any more”.

“It’s one thing for the monar­chists to say ‘we should be stay­ing so very closely aligned to Great Bri­tain’ … but how do you feel about stay­ing so closely aligned to lit­tle Bri­tain?” he told ABC Ra­dio.

“From the mo­ment that Brexit came through, so­cial me­dia came alive, with peo­ple say­ing ‘this is ridicu­lous, let us be our own peo­ple, let us get away from this’.”

Mr FitzSi­mons said if Aus­tralia aban­doned the Bri­tish monar­chy it would be a uni­fy­ing mo­ment of na­tional pride rather than a “di­vi­sive and hor­ri­ble cam­paign as was Brexit”.

“[ We’re] not look­ing to Brexit as the model at all,” he said. “We’re just say­ing that it’s lu­di­crous in the 21st cen­tury to say that Aus­tralia can­not do bet­ter than find our heads of state from one fam­ily of English aris­to­crats liv­ing in a palace in Lon­don.”

How­ever, the monar­chist move­ment said Bri­tain’s vote “has noth­ing what­so­ever to do with chang­ing from a con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy to a repub­lic”.

“For the repub­li­cans to say that it gives an ex­cuse to be­come a repub­lic is to­tal, ap­par­ent non­sense,” said Philip Benwell, the chair­man of the Aus­tralian Monar­chist League.

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