Tory prime minister David Cameron has announced 23 June as the date for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU).
He hopes that his deal to restrict migrants’ benefits and to protect the City financiers from regulation will be enough to persuade his party to back him, and to win the vote later this year.
His speech outside Downing Street this morning was full of talk of safeguarding “prosperity”—from a man who is wrecking public services and workers’ living standards. He talked of “security”—as his government rams through more anti-union laws. And he sought to use the spectre of terrorism to scare people into following him.
Socialist Worker will be pushing for a vote to leave. The EU is a bosses’ club, a mechanism to defend and impose capitalist values across a continent.
Born to shore up a Europe racked by crisis and revolt after the Second World War, the Common Market and now the EU have acted to stifle any attempts to break from capitalist policies. It is today a neoliberal straitjacket that rules out a full welfare state, let alone a transition towards any sort of socialist agenda.
The EU acted to crush the Syriza government in Greece last year, and thereby revealed its hostility to democracy.
Syriza’s refusal to contemplate breaking from the EU was one of the reasons why it failed and is now seeking to force through brutal austerity.
And the EU is no friend of refugees and migrants.
The EU’s Fortress Europe policy acts to repulse refugees and migrants who are forced to risk their lives on the open seas. Those who are fortunate enough to arrive in Europe then face EU-devised programmes designed to keep them out.
The EU’s much-vaunted “free movement” was always a myth. It meant liberty for the movement of capital, exclusion for all but a select group of countries. Now even that meagre opening is closing as the walls and the barbed wire fences go up.
Those on the left pushing to stay should remember that they are lining up alongside David Cameron, the large majority of the Tory cabinet, the austerity-imposing ruling elites across Europe, the majority of Britain’s top bosses and bankers, and the US ruling class.
A No vote throws them into crisis and would remove Cameron.
The divisions that now exist in the Tory party, with a string of cabinet ministers opposing Cameron, should be a spur to struggle.
The Daily Mail commented on the EU deal this morning, "Far from healing the Tory Party’s age-old rift over Europe, it promises only to increase the bitterness. Indeed, the prime minister comes out of this sorry saga badly wounded, just eight months after his surprise election triumph made him look all but invincible on the domestic political battleground."
Such divisions should incite every union and campaign to intensify the pressure on this rotten government. The Tories' trouble is our opportunity.
Our opposition to the EU has nothing in common with the arguments from the British nationalists and racists in the Tory right and Ukip.
It was nauseating to see George Galloway appearing at the Grassroots Out rally last night and campaigning against the EU alongside the racist Ukip’s Nigel Farage.
There can be no joint work or alliance with those who hate the EU because they want to hurl up even more barriers.
We hope others will join us in a campaign that is rooted in anti-capitalism, support for workers’ struggles and anti-racism. It is not too late for Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn to shrug off the pressure from the right and launch a left-wing leave campaign. It would condemn Cameron to defeat.
Our campaign will say, “No to racism, open the borders, leave the EU”, and “Yes to workers’ unity everywhere, solidarity against neoliberalism and capitalism, leave the EU”. It will also say “No to Ukip and TTIP and the other neoliberal treaties, fight the bosses, leave the EU” and “Yes to real action over climate change, no trust in the bosses’ solutions, leave the EU”.