As the Tories descend into civil war, we argue that a vote to leave the EU would be a blow against the neoliberal order
The people of this country will soon have the opportunity to derail not only the Tories but the entire neoliberal project in Europe.
If in June we vote for Brexit the Tories will be thrown into chaos and Cameron’s government, little more than a year old, would be dead in the water.
The entire EU will also be thrown into crisis. Nobody has ever left the EU – it would set an example that others could follow.
We should not line up with Cameron, the CBI and most of the ruling class and pretend the EU is progressive. It isn’t. We must be honest about the real nature of the EU and vote to Leave.
Neoliberal to the core
The EU is an inherently neoliberal institution. Neoliberalism is written into the treaties that govern the Union’s workings and which define European law.
The EU and the European Central Bank are the greatest driving forces of neoliberalism on the continent – a process which has massively accelerated since 2008. This built-in neoliberalism will threaten any future left government in Britain.
Any attempts at renationalisation of rail or the utilities will immediately fall foul of European laws which restrict state intervention in the economy.
A bulwark against change
The EU exists to prevent progressive change. Most of the left used to understand this, and which is why, during the referendum 1975 on membership of the EEC, a young Jeremy Corbyn supported half the Labour cabinet, led by Tony Benn, in calling for a vote to leave.
They understood that any serious programme of change would quickly come into conflict with Brussels.
The passionate embrace by Labour of first the EEC and then the EU was a product of the move to the right by the party. It marked the abandonment of the idea of serious progressive reform and the acceptance of neoliberalism.
Any future clash with the EU will be brutal. Look at what they did to Greece last year. Size will not protect us. In 2012 the EU and ECB orchestrated the ousting of the government of Italy, a member of the G8.
Undemocratic and irreformable
The EU is fundamentally undemocratic and it is not reformable.
It lacks any real democratic institutions. The European Parliament is a powerless talking shop. Real power lies with the unelected bureaucracy headed by the Commission which takes its orders from big national governments.
When Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who is negotiating the TTIP treaty, was asked how she could ignore the rising tide of opposition to it she replied, ‘I do not take my mandate from the European people.’
There are those on the left who argue that, though it is is flawed, we have to stay in the EU to reform it. They are silent on how we are to do this though. The fact is there is no way.
A racist Europe
Some argue we must not line up with Ukip, the Tory right and racists in voting to leave.
Yet voting to remain in Europe is to vote for the current racist immigration controls which flow from the free movement of citizens within the Union, but exclusion of citizens from the rest of the world, a fact which hits hard immigrants from the Britain’s former colonies.
At the walls of Fortress Europe the consequences are felt even more harshly.
Under the EU’s aegis thousands have already died trying to cross the Mediterranean. In future those that do land will be deported straight back to where they came from. If the current plans are implemented.
As for the EU citizens currently resident in the UK, Cameron is already cracking down on them, with the agreement of Europe. His ability to do so any further, though, is limited by the fact that 1.3 millions Britons live on the continent.
A militarised Europe
The EU has kept the peace, we are also told. Yet since the creation of the EU in 1992 there has been a series of wars in the east of the continent, wars which the EU has been an active party to. It still runs Kosovo and Bosnia as colonial protectorates.
Membership of the EU has increasingly also become identical with that of Nato. Both are expansionist blocs which are increasingly coming into conflict with Russia. Their push ever eastwards is a force for instability and threatens ever greater conflict on the continent.
A defender of rights?
We will lose our rights if we vote to leave, it is said. But the rights we have, we fought for, mostly through trade unions. It is odd to hear them now saying that we have Europe to thank.
Talk of the EU as the protector of workers’ rights reflects a gross ignorance of reality: the EU and ECB are forcing the removal of workers’ rights, the assault in Greece, is an ominous pointer to the future.
Some of the talk of rights is also either due to misunderstanding or deliberate obfuscation. The European Court of Human Rights and its supporting convention pre-date and are separate from the EEC/EU and would not be affected by leaving it.
We have nothing to gain from continued membership of the EU. The ‘left’ arguments for remaining in it do not stand up.
The EU is an inherently neo-liberal institution, it is not democratic, and it is irreformable. It is not a bulwark against racism: Fortress Europe is generating racism.
It is a key driving force of neoliberalism across the continent and will be a block against any future progressive government in this country.
On 23 June we will have a chance to strike a blow against the EU and all its doings. Exit would strengthen people fighting back across the continent. It would send the powers that be – whether in London, Brussels or Berlin – into crisis.
More articles from this author
- Existence is Resistance: A brief history of the Palestinian struggle - video
- Cycling in solidarity: The Big Ride For Palestine 2021
- The left, the right and the culture wars - video
- 15% is the demand: NHS pay is everyone’s fight - News from the Frontline
- The left after lockdown - video
- This is profit before people: campaigning to save Brick Lane
- Capitalism and the climate emergency