Lexit – the Left Leave Campaign has been launched. This is the text of its first leaflet, distriubted on the People’s Assembly national demonstration on 16 April 2016.
(1) A pro-big business agenda
The EU is in secret negotiations with the US to launch the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This will promote privatisation and reduce corporate standards to the lowest level either side of the Atlantic. War on Want estimates the deal could cost 600,000 jobs.
Membership of the EU hampers any attempt to nationalise the railways or to rescue industries such as steel where jobs are threatened.
Countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Ireland and Portugal have suffered brutal EU austerity programmes. In Greece, health spending fell by a quarter, education by a third.
(2) Unreformable and undemocratic
Decision-making in the EU is dominated by unelected bodies such as the European Commission and European Central Bank. Those running them are contemptuous of democracy. Confronted with discontent over TTIP, Cecilia Malmstrom, European trade commissioner, replied: “I do not take my mandate from the European people.”
Rewriting or scrapping the basic EU treaties would need unanimous agreement between all 28 governments.
(3) Rights and justice
It is a myth that the EU defends workers. Equal pay legislation came out of the struggle of the women sewing machinists at Ford’s Dagenham in 1968, not from the EU. Most health and safety legislation originates in the 1970s, a time of union strength. The national minimum wage was won by the labour movement – not given to us by the EU, which has not defended workers against any of the 12 Tory anti-union laws since 1980.
The left defends the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) adopted by the Council of Europe, a completely separate body from the EU that Britain would remain a member of whatever the referendum result.
(4) Fortress Europe
The EU only believes in the free movement of labour in order for big business to exploit it, while denying that right to those who are not EU citizens. That’s why four EU Court of Justice rulings have outlawed trade union and government action to enforce equal rights for imported (“posted”) workers.
Now the EU is engaged in the mass deportation of refugees from Greece. Amnesty International says of the deportation programme, “The very principle of international protection for those fleeing war and persecution is at stake.”
“Fortress Europe” is also developing a military dimension, which EU treaties openly link to NATO.
(5) Heading right?
If Britain votes to leave, it won’t automatically mean a move to the right. The Tories are being torn apart by debate over the EU. If Cameron loses, he will almost certainly go. If a Conservative government survives, it will be hopelessly fragile.
Not only will the government be weakened. The rich and powerful overwhelmingly support British membership. The City, the Confederation of British Industry and the Institute of Directors all support the status quo. So do at least two-thirds of large British firms surveyed by the Financial Times last year. A crisis for our rulers can open up a greater space for the left.
On June 23, Britain will vote in a referendum on EU membership. Voters deserve better than an ugly choice between David Cameron’s pro-EU campaign (or the pipe-dream of a “Social Europe”) on the one hand, and the reactionary anti-EU campaigning of UKIP and the Tory right on the other.
That is why we have come together to launch #Lexit: The Left Leave Campaign. We aim to build a principled, anti-racist and internationalist campaign, committed to democracy, social justice and environmental sustainability.