What is the European Union (EU) referendum really about? According to some of the leading campaigners, it’s about anything but the EU.
This is particularly the case for Remain supporters, who are trying to win over Labour voters.
The closer people look at the EU itself, the harder it is to defend. So we’re told voting Remain is really about stopping the hard right.
Labour MPs Cat Smith, Wes Streeting and Stephen Kinnock went so far as to call a potential Leave vote “a populist, nationalist, right wing coup”.
Much of this argument relies on painting one wing of the Tory party as much nicer than the other.
Former Tory prime minister John Major said that Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove can’t be trusted with the NHS—he’s right. But neither can David Cameron, George Osborne, Theresa May or Jeremy Hunt.
Attacks on immigration have been central to the debate—on both sides.
Left wing Remain supporters argue that Leave would be a vindication of racist Nigel Farage. But then Remain would vindicate Cameron’s border clampdowns.
Too much of the left muted its case against the EU for fear of competing on the racists’ terrain—and ended up giving the racists the monopoly.
But polls show far more working class support for Leave than for anti-immigrant parties.
Seeing fat cats, police chiefs and Tory toffs line up to scare them into line will give many people reason to defy them.
A vote to Remain would shore up the EU’s faltering mandate to impose austerity.
It would also throw a lifeline to a Tory prime minister deep in crisis. A Leave vote would push him under.
It’s true that Boris Johnson or a similar figure might take over in the short term.
But they would preside over a divided Tory party with no ability to withstand real resistance.
It would be weaker in implementing attacks than the present tottering regime.
A Leave vote can open the road to dumping all the Tories—as long as we don’t just spectate.
We need more anti-racist struggle, more solidarity with refugees, more anti-austerity battles—and more pressure on the trade union leaders and Labour to fight.
Whatever the vote on 23 June workers and migrants across Europe will continue to face attacks from bosses, governments and the EU.
Whatever the vote, we’ll have to fight back.
The choice is whether to strengthen the enemy we’re fighting—or to weaken it.