Westminster MP’s vote tonight on the Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill with the Tories widely expected to win with the support of their allies the loyalist DUP. The vote draws attention again to the ‘Brexit’ negotiations now well underway. And perhaps the most important point about them, one universally ignored by the mainstream media, is that neither side represents the interests of working class people, anywhere.
I argued for a Remain vote back in June 2016. I did so on the basis it was ‘the lesser of two evils’. The European Union is, as far as I'm concerned, no friend of working people. It is an institution firmly rooted in post war Western European capitalism. Today it is firmly in the grip of neo-liberal free market capitalist corporations. It exists to ensure these multinational corporations profit, without tariff or interference, from exploiting 550milion Europeans. Treaty after treaty [Rome, Maastricht, Nice, Lisbon, Dublin] all ensured their interests were sacrosanct and put ahead of the peoples of Europe. Despite purporting to be ‘democratic’ the EU is in fact run by and for the interests of big business/capital. It is an instrument which exists to exploit their interests.
I therefore have no illusions in the EU, its character, purpose or negotiators. But, you may ask why, in that case did I call for a vote for Britain to ‘Remain’ inside this corrupt and undemocratic organisation?
Answer. Because the ‘Leave’ case on offer was even more unattractive. Led by the extreme Right of the Conservative Party its central promise was to roll back the clock and ‘take back control’ of economic and political decision making. But control for whom? Led by ‘Little Englanders’ who had no intentions of advancing the interests of working people anywhere, the ‘Leave’ campaign was not led by the Left. It was a narrow-minded xenophobic array led by dinosaurs like Nigel Farage, Boris Johnston, Michael Gove and other enemies of working people.
The British electorate voted to ‘Leave’ however. And as democrats we must accept the result. To do otherwise is to stand alongside the world’s ‘democracy deniers’. That’s no place for socialists.
So the ‘Brexit’ negotiations are now underway with neither side representing the interests of working class people. The ‘Brexiteers in Chief’ David Davies and Liam Fox are both arch Thatcherites with a record of reaction and privatisation as bad as any. They fully intend to shackle working people further and so do the EU negotiators who have their own punishments in store.
Working people across Europe face the same struggle. Greedy, exploitative employers wish us to work longer for less. They introduced zero hour contracts increasing the insecurity of working class people everywhere. And they have all moved to replace full time, permanent jobs on decent pay and trade’s union rights with insecure, part-time, casual, low paid and often humiliating conditions. Their profits have mushroomed as insecurity and indebtedness have wreaked havoc on working class communities throughout the continent. The rich have become obscenely richer whilst most of us have seen our living standards fall.
The SSP has no faith in the EU, its leaders or institutions. They are part of the problem facing working class people across Europe not its solution. The illusions pedalled in these institutions particularly by ‘Remainers’ who lost the 2016 Referendum are criminal. Working class Europeans have, as they say in the United States, ‘No skin in this game’. Both sides of the negotiating table are intent on signing a deal which further exploits working people across this continent. Neither want a £10/hour Living Wage and permanent, secure contracts of employment with full trade’s union protections. Neither want the riches of Europe publicly owned and controlled for the benefit of everyone. And neither side want that wealth shared out among all the peoples of Europe starting with the poorest first.
The task therefore facing working class people across Europe is to link up and build a common treasury for all. Not allow xenophobes and exploiters to divide us up so that we end up fighting one another instead of our common enemy. That’s the true internationalism behind our call for a People’s Europe.
I campaigned for a vote to stay in the EU to work with 550milion other Europeans to reform it from top to bottom. Reform it democratically since none of the EU leaders are elected by anyone. Reform it socially to ensure it serves the interests of working people not financiers in London, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan or Edinburgh for that matter.