#AusExit? Aussies ponder their future in Commonwealth after Brexit

Britain’s controversial break from the EU has invigorated a movement in Australia that aims to split from the monarchy. Supporters of the idea have bombarded Twitter with #Ausexit hashtag since the stunning Brexit vote.

The “AusExit” campaign, led by Australia’s republican movement, has surged in popularity since the UK’s decision to leave the EU in last week’s referendum.

The republican movement calls for the removal of the British monarch as Australia’s head of state and elimination of the Union Jack from the Australian flag.

The benefits of remaining part of “little Britain” are unclear at this point, said Peter FitzSimons, the chairman of Australia’s republican movement.

Despite Australia’s deep historical ties to the British empire, in the 21st century “Great Britain barely exists anymore,” FitzSimons told ABC Radio.

“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.’”

Following Brexit, Google searches for “Australian republic” surged along with #Ausexit tweets.

Australians have embraced the social media campaign, reasoning “if Britain has the right to determine its future, why can’t we?”

FitzSimons believes that leaving the monarchy will unite Australia as a nation. “[We’re] not looking to Brexit as the model at all,” he added. “We’re just saying that it’s ludicrous in the twenty-first 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. We’re better than that as a people.”

In response, the monarchist movement called the campaign “total, apparent nonsense,” according to the chairman of the Australian monarchist league, Philip Benwell.

Australians faced this issue before in a 1999 referendum when the population voted against changing into a republic.

Local media indicate that opinion polls these days are showing that support amongst Australians for abandoning the monarchy has leveled off or even decreased.

The main proponent of the referendum back in 1999 was Australia’s current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull’s current position is that Australia should maintain close ties to Britain. Australia is in the midst of election campaigns right now ahead of a federal vote that is to take place on July 2.