Should I stay or should I go?
Jim O’Neill says the EU referendum vote is a no brainer. It’s about the principles of our party – internationalism and solidarity – and he urges us all to vote Remain.
It is time now for me to add my tuppenceworth to the Bremain/Brexit argument. As an internationalist of the left, it is a no brainer. It is better to be inside the tent… I will not assault your sensitivities with the rest of that quote. However, it amazes me the arguments put by Brexit supporters of the left.
They seem to be fixated on TTIP, despite the fact that the Sanders/Trump campaigns in America have shown a hatred for free trade in the American workforce, and even the most recent statements by Hillary have shown a move towards fair rather than free trade. This move was predicted by Ian Bremmer of Time magazine some weeks ago when he said that TTIP was much more in danger from American concerns than from European opposition. TTIP may not survive this presidential election.
When not fixating on this they turn to that great bogeyman of the left, big money, the banks and secret capitalism which, in their mind, controls the EU. This is despite the fact that the EU has enacted some of the most progressive legislation in the world, such as the Working Time Directive, and the headquarters of all the major Human Rights organisations are in Europe. Somehow, secret capitalism took their eye off the ball for a while.
When challenged with the damage that Johnson, Gove and IDS would do to workers’ rights, welfare and human rights if they got into power after Brexit, they answer that we could vote them out in 2020. Perhaps this is the great plan. They believe that Boris and co would be easier to beat in 2020 that Dave or Gideon and his team. But at what cost to the people of Britain? Four years is a long time to give the keys of power to that lot and I fear for what country Britain would be by then.
There are, however, many positive reasons to support Bremain. Did you know, for instance, that there are more Brits claiming benefits in EU countries than EU citizens claiming benefits here? And what about all those holidaymakers returning to Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy and other EU destinations as concerns over the safety of more far flung destinations increase. Get ill on holiday? As an EU citizen you are covered. Can’t get a job in Britain with your particular skills? Lots of jobs on the continent are available and you can’t be discriminated against just because you are British. Need a short term workforce for your farm or fruit picking and can’t get Brits to take the jobs? Recruit in Europe. Need staff to shore up a creaking NHS? Europe again.
There are so many positive reasons to remain, not including the protections afforded by EU labour law, competition law and other directives, and as a convinced co-operator, there is much in EU law to support co-operatives. But for me the ultimate reason is my internationalism, learned from such great founders of our party as James Keir Hardie, George Lansbury and Nye Bevan. They would not turn their backs on Europe but would counsel linking with the working classes of other European countries to fight off the new wave of fascism facing Europe. That is why I am pleased that Jeremy Corbyn is reaffirming the outward looking face of our Labour Party and campaigning across Britain for a Remain vote. To do any less would be to betray the history of our party and endanger the union itself.
I have already cast my vote in this referendum, as I did in the 1970s, to remain in the EU. I call on all my comrades to do the same. Oh, and sing the Internationale while you do it.