The EU referendum and the left’s dilemma

Following the EU Summit, leaders of the other 27 member nations of the EU have approved a deal which will see: a seven year term in which EU migrants in the UK will be restricted from claiming in-work benefits; child benefit payments proportionate to the cost of living for children living outside the UK for all new arrivals to the UK; ability for any single non eurozone country to force a debate among EU leaders about problematic EU laws; and an unambiguous opt-out stating in any future EU treaty references to ‘ever closer union’ are not applicable to the UK. Following the summit, the Conservative Party has been divided between those that wish to remain in the EU and those that hope for a Brexit.

David Cameron and George Osborne, amongst many wish to remain in the EU – this is primarily due to the EU’s importance to UK trade. The EU is the world’s biggest free-trade zone, and access to the EU allows British companies to sell freely to this market. Many business leaders believe that the benefits outweigh the billions paid for membership the UK would save if a Brexit took place. By leaving the EU, the UK would risk its negotiation power internationally.

Furthermore, there is a general consensus that inward investment would slow approaching the referendum due to uncertainty regarding the referendum’s outcome. This was witnessed before the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. Pro Europe campaigners argue that the UK risks its status as a global financial metropolis if it is no longer viewed as a bridge to the EU by the Americans. Moreover, the free movement of people across the EU enables UK workers to find job opportunities abroad (some 2 million live in Europe), as well as enabling EU workers to be employed by UK companies.

Nevertheless, from a socialist perspective the EU is essentially a capitalist club. The EU allows multi national corporations to exploit workers and undermine member states’ sovereignty, as well as costing the UK an annual net loss of approximately £12 billion. Leaving the EU will also enable the UK to establish links with nations in Asia, Africa, the South Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean. Additionally, by and large UK citizens do not enjoy the social benefits of the EU, John Major’s conservative government negotiated a complete opt out from the social chapter of the Maastricht Treaty, thus British workers are excluded from the treaty’s positive aspects and exposed to the single market. Furthermore, Tony Blair negotiated an opt out from the EU Working Time Directive, giving British employers an allowance to disregard the 48-hour weekly work limit enjoyed by other EU workers.

To conclude, pro Europe campaigners have reflected the arguments as espoused by corporations, giving the impression that remaining in the EU is inherent to the UK’s very state of being. The reality of the situation is that in the EU the unaccountable Commission and European Central Bank call the shots, over European Parliament and national sovereignty. In order to reclaim national sovereignty and establish a UK where ordinary workers can reclaim their power, the UK must leave the EU. It is believed Jeremy Corbyn is Eurosceptic but finds himself unenthusiastically fighting a pro-EU campaign to keep his more pro-EU party MPs together.

Ling Ling Douglas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *