By politics.co.uk staff
Labour has neglected the Commonwealth and failed to realise its potential to expand Britain's sphere of influence, shadow foreign secretary William Hague has said.
In a speech last night, Mr Hague described the government's approach to the Commonwealth as "short-sighted" and "ultimately detrimental to the prosperity... of our country".
"Amidst the shifting global landscape, the Commonwealth can act as a bridge across divides of religion, ethnicity, culture and wealth, to the benefit of common humanity," Mr Hague said.
Stressing the vast numbers of Muslims in the Commonwealth - 500 million - as an example of how Britain can tackle reform through its pre-existing foreign policy arrangements, he called for a renewed emphasis on the Commonwealth.
"It will have the unwavering support of a future Conservative government for it will be an important instrument in our foreign policy tool box," Mr Hague continued.
"We will adopt a more assertive, energetic and enthusiastic attitude towards the Commonwealth since there is vast potential to be unlocked and Britain must, along with our friends and allies, be at the forefront of these efforts."
The Commonwealth all-but dropped off the media agenda during the last decade, with the UK's bilateral relationship with the United States taking precedence over international institutions.