Very interesting comment on Brexit
Billy Bragg writes:
Staying in the EU was always going to be a hard sell to those of us on the left. The treatment of Greece and the threat of TTIP suggest that the European Union is little more than a neo-liberal cartel. The serious lack of accountability and the ridiculous practice of moving the whole parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg make it hard to love. Jeremy Corbyn spoke for many of us when he said he was 7.5 out of 10 in favour of remaining within the EU.
Over the past few days, as the Leave campaign has begun to bang loudly on the anti-immigrant drum, my reasons for voting remain have become crystal clear. The Brexit Brigade – economic libertarians all – have promised that Britain’s exit will be no pain and all gain, with no regard of the consequences for those at the bottom of the pile if their economic wishful thinking is wrong. They have no qualms about blaming the working class for all societies ills in the same manner they have scapegoated the immigrants
I have friends on the left who have made a socialist case for voting Leave and, while I understand their arguments, I have wondered how they can share a political platform with Johnson, Gove, Patel, Farage et al. Since Thursday, however, I feel that none of us on the left can be in any doubt who will be emboldened by a victory for Leave. I have spent all my political life fighting against people like Thomas Mair, who, by shouting ‘Independence for Britain’ as he was arrested, clearly wanted the world to know which side he is on.
This is no longer an economic argument, of even one of national sovereignty. This is a battle for the soul of our country. If we win, we will have to work hard to address the genuine problems that mass immigration causes. We will need to build schools, hospitals and union membership. We will need to give a voice to the forgotten and the marginalised so that they can have some control over their lives and communities. And we will need to reform the EU to make it more about people and less about profits.
None of this will be possible if we vote to Leave. If the libertarians triumph, what’s left of our welfare state will be sold to the highest bidder and our workplaces – the most deregulated in Europe – will be stripped of their meagre protections. The Tory Party will be reborn as shiny suited free market zealots. At the same time the forces of division will be emboldened and the lives of our fellow citizens – those who don’t fit in with their warped idea of who does and who doesn’t belong – will be made a misery. But if we win, then we will have momentum and the chance to utilise it while the Tories tear themselves apart over Europe.
If you are a person of the left, I urge you not to vote Leave next Thursday. If the thought of voting remain is too much to bear, I totally respect that as a principled position and ask you to consider abstaining. Better that than to have helped unleash forces that we have opposed in solidarity with one another over the past decades.