(WRITTEN 17/06/16)

For months, it seemed little has occupied the thoughts of the British commentariat than the question of Brexit and whether the UK should remain member states of the EU. For those of us on the left it seems like a difficult and impenetrable question. With the main “Britain Stronger in Europe” campaign being backed substantially by areas of finance capital and the European bourgeoisie generally, a “Left Remain” strategy has seemed hollow and unconvincing. However, with the reactionary forces behind leave, joining forces with the likes of Farage seems equally unappealing.

Clearly there is overlap which should be considered. Groups like, “Another Europe is Possible” and Varoufakis’ “DIEM” group seem to be progressive forces struggling for a Europe in favour of the popular classes and we should respect this. However, it seems their central thesis is utterly flawed, the EU cannot be reformed as it has a systemic proclivity toward technocracy and away from democracy. One only needs to look at the generally modest reforms of Syriza last summer in Greece to display the EU’s odious disdain for democracy, quoting the 3rd memorandum, “The Government commits to consult and agree with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund on all actions relevant for the achievement of the objectives of the Memorandum of Understanding before these are finalized and legally adopted”. This is economic colonialism, and any such institution which backs this sort of self-defeating program is no friend of the left and certainly not progressive. Time and time again the EU has proven itself to be for the forces of the capitalist class and against the interest of the international proleteriat.

It therefore shouldn’t be surprising that I initially was willing to back a “Lexit” vote, which I saw as being the only real progressive action to attack this reactionary and bourgeois institution. With Europe’s odious behaviour over the migrant crisis, it’s implementation of crippling austerity on Southern Europe and it’s barbaric trade deals with the global South a leave vote seemed to be conceivable within a left context. Indeed, I followed the light of perhaps the greatest politician this country has ever had, Tony Benn, who, along with Michael Foot and many on the left of the Labour party were staunch critics of the EU. However, the key thing about this which has failed to be analysed by the likes of the SWP who back a Lexit vote is context.

Fundamentally, if I was asked the question, “Do you favour Britain leaving the European Union” devoid of any context, the answer would emphatically be, “yes!”. Such a move would allow a more inclusive migration policy, better support for industries such as steel which are suffering and public ownership to become a more fundamental part of the economy. Indeed, Benn and Foot were pushing for such a move back in the 80’s. However, at such a time there was a substantial force on the left backing Brexit and the context of the working class was different. What we see today is that the major backers of the leave campaign are reactionaries who generally wish to leave either for xenophobic reasons or for deregulatory reasons. A left voice which could gather momentum if we left is simply absent apart from small factions such as the SWP. If we leave, particularly in the context of a recession, the likely outcome will be greater austerity, an increase in racism, an upsurge in popularity of far-right parties across Europe and a dramatic shift in the Tory party to the hard-right. This will likely affect the working-class and minorities detrimentally and to act as if the left can somehow direct an exit is delusional.

Therefore, it is with regret that I’m holding my nose and voting to stay. Given the current framework within the British politic exists, it seems that this is the time to simply stabilise the conditions and wait for a more substantive lexit voice to be articulated- to throw the dice now could prove utterly dangerous and counter-productive.

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