The Lexit (Left Exit) side of the EU debate has been criminally ignored. It has received almost no coverage, other than occasional attempts to invalidate or hide its existence. This truly is a shame, because there are valid reasons for leaving the European Union in this election, yet the xenophobia of the mainstream leave campaign has completely tarred mainstream perceptions of leave. It should go without saying that I condemn the racist, capitalist arguments heard by most Brexiters. I don’t think immigration is killing Britain (rather the opposite), I don’t give a damn about “putting the great back in Great Britain”, and the concept of national sovereignty certainly does not appeal to my inner anarchist.
The first myth I would like to dispel is the idea that by voting leave we are giving power to the Tories (and to UKIP). I find this completely nonsensical considering that the leaver of the stay campaign is David Cameron. Anyone familiar with the inner working of the Conservative Party knows that there is a giant rift within them. Cameron is currently leader of the dominant faction and voting stay ratifies this power. Early in the government we saw over 80 backbench MPs defy Tory voting policy because of this internal split. If stay wins this election, Cameron is legitimised and this simply won’t happen again.
UKIP are over if we leave, and that’ll be a big weight off my back.
Several backbench Tory MPs have openly said that if leave wins the election, they will call a vote of no confidence. Some people have taken to saying this would lead to Boris Johnson becoming our Prime Minister, yet I have several faults with this analysis. Come 2020, there will be another Tory leadership change anyway. Cameron has openly stated he won’t be running next election, so any chance of Bojo being PM will just be delayed.
Secondly, there is a very good chance this might trigger a general election. It might be optimistic of me to say this but there’s also a slim chance it could trigger a Corbyn-led government in 2017.
As for UKIP? Well, considering at best they’re a glorified pressure group and all their victories comes from anti-EU rhetoric, leaving the EU will be the nail in their coffin. They’re currently redesigning their post-referendum manifesto to “appeal more to young voters” – we all know how that’s going to end. UKIP are over if we leave, and that’ll be a big weight off my back.
Secondly, I want to dismiss this myth that the EU is this big, left-wing, utopian project. The EU was created to be, and still is, a capitalist trading group with its sole purpose to be to legitimise liberal capitalist governments. Its primary pursuit is trade and the regulation of trade. This often gets conflated with the regulation of capitalism and capitalists, but they’re very different things. The EU aims to place a friendly face on capitalism so people don’t recognise its evils. It’s “eco-friendly” whilst offering corporations ways to escape any actual carbon-reducing commitments (such as producing excess waste, just so it can destroy it, or buying exemptions from policy). It’s “pro worker rights” whilst backing things like TTIP and crushing movements like Syriza. It supports the “free movement of people” as long as those people are European.
I want to dwell on this point a little longer because it seems the left have forgotten the racist doctrine of the EU. Not more than 6 months ago we were calling the EU “Fortress Europe” because of how disgustingly it treats “illegal” migrants. The EU handles “illegal” migration through a Polish-based company called Frontex. Frontex then bribes police officers outside of Europe (particularly North Africa) to police docks to stop migration. However, these police officers aren’t paid for stopping migration, just for making a show of power at main docks. This then forces refugees and migrants to use much more dangerous ports and take more precarious routes. This is why the death toll of “clandestine” migration is so high – because of the EU’s neoliberal approach to migration, one which seeks free movement of people for the privileged but not for refugees. The EU has done very little to respond to the refugee crisis and places like Britain and Poland have taken a horrifically low amount of refugees, yet the EU (the one power that has sway here) remains silent.
So that nationalised railway Corbyn promised, and all the stuff about saving our NHS? Not possible with the EU.
If one needs any proof that the EU isn’t left-wing then one only has to look at its laws on nationalisation. Nationalisation in the EU is illegal due to laws protecting competition. So that nationalised railway Corbyn promised, and all the stuff about saving our NHS? Not possible with the EU. I can already hear people saying “but Germany has nationalised railways”. It doesn’t – it has railcarts that the state is an investor in. This is fundamentally different and if anything turns the government into another corporation rather than a state looking out for its people and its workers. Simply put, there is no way for socialism and the EU to coincide.
The EU is a tool of big business. At best it’s capitalism with a friendly face, and at its worse it’s one of the biggest imperialist projects we’ve ever seen. It’s an appeal to the old European powers that claim internationalism yet are only “internationalist” to well off nations that abide by their cultural norms. I understand why some people wish to vote stay. Free movement is a nice thing to have, and it can seem like we’d be buying into xenophobia by voting leave. Yet, this is probably going to be the only vote we get in our lifetimes. We probably won’t get the chance to vote again within the next 40 years or more, so ask yourself “Does a capitalist trading bloc feature in my ideal world?”, and vote based off that. This is a long-term issue, and this, as I see it, is possibly the only chance we have to escape the neoliberal clutches of the EU.
Note: Given that on 15 June, 65 Tory MP’s said they’d rebel against the emergency austerity budget if Brexit wins, I feel this further strengthens my arguments.