Speakers from the international left put the case for a left exit from the European Union at a rally in London yesterday, Wednesday.
Some 150 people came to hear arguments rejecting the austerity of the Troika and the racism of the European Union (EU) and the bosses’ Brexit and Remain campaigns. The meeting was organised by the Lexit campaign.
Brid Smith, recently elected TD to the Irish Dail, asked how the EU can claim to be a force for social good when it had agreed a deal to return refugees to Turkey. “They’ve pushed tens of thousands of people back into the arms of one of the most despotic regimes in the world,” she said.
Brid also detailed the terrible effects of EU-led austerity in Ireland.
Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths said that he was shocked that some on the left were arguing to stay in the EU.
“A free market economy is written, explicitly, into the two fundamental treaties of the European Union”, he said, “How can any socialist support that kind of institution?”
Britain’s position within the EU, at the financial centre but also slightly detached, is exactly where Britain’s rulers want it, argued Alex Callinicos from the Socialist Workers Party.
“A vote to Leave is a vote against the EU, IMF and Nato axis, but it’s also a vote against our own ruling class,” he said.
Argyri Erotokritou from Antarsya, the anticapitalist coalition in Greece, spoke by a video link from Athens. She condemned the EU’s deal with Turkey. “The Tsipras government is proud of this agreement”, she said, “It’s an agreement that deports the Syrians and the Afghans back to Turkey.”
She added that the austerity programme implemented in Greece was clear evidence of the EU’s neoliberal character.
Lindsey German from Counterfire ridiculed the idea pushed by Cameron and others that the EU prevents wars from happening.
She said, “He obviously didn’t notice the war in the 1990s in Yugoslavia caused in part by the pressure from the various EU countries.”
Lindsey also pointed out that it’s effectively a requirement of EU membership to join Nato.
International secretary for the Catalonian Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) Quim Arrufat agreed, “They are creating war all around the EU’s borders, it is not true that they have avoided war.
“If you follow the border of the EU from the Ukraine, coming through Turkey, they are bombing our brothers and sisters in south-east Turkey and Kurdistan, Palestine, Iraq.”
Joseph Choonara from the Lexit campaign argued from the floor that the movement necessary to produce a leave vote can form the basis of a real social Europe.
Argyri summed up the mood of the meeting. “A Lexit win in Britain would show us in Greece that we are not alone in this fight like the EU and our government says,” she said. “We can win a workers’ and refugees’ Europe, free from racism, austerity and wars.”