David Cameron announced last Saturday that the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU) will take place on 23 June.
He claimed that Britain would be “safer, stronger and better off in a reformed European Union”.
But the deal that he cobbled together with Europe’s rulers guarantees nothing of the kind. It is a bankers’ and racists’ charter that makes it easier for bosses to attack workers and migrants.
Cameron talked about securing “jobs, prosperity and financial security for our families”. But he didn’t mean for working class people.
He meant financial security for the City of London to gamble with the rest of the world’s money free from the most limited EU regulations.
Meanwhile the centrepiece of the deal ramps up the Tories’ racist scapegoating.
They now have an “emergency brake” for a seven-year period to stop new migrant workers claiming benefits.
The EU is a bosses’ club that allows European capitalist states to compete against the US and China.
While Britain represents only around 5 percent of the global economy, the EU is the single largest economy in the world.
That’s why around half of the bosses of the FTSE top 100 companies have signed an open letter backing Cameron.
Today the EU binds its members to austerity. The Syriza government in Greece tried to break with austerity without leaving the EU—and bosses crushed it.
Nor is the EU a protector of migrants or refugees. “Fortress Europe” leaves refugees fleeing the West’s wars and poverty to die in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas.
German chancellor Angela Merkel’s main concern at the EU summit was getting a unified response on the refugee crisis.
But it ended in disarray as each country is pursuing its policies, putting up border walls and razor wire fences.
An EU agreement to settle 160,000 refugees across its 28 states has seen fewer than 600 people find refuge.
The myth that the EU protects migrants with the free movement of labour is also being exposed.
Germany and Denmark have already re-imposed internal border controls and more could follow.
It is said that arguing to leave the EU means lining up with the right. But to side with remaining in the EU is to side with those who defeated Greece’s Syriza.
And who are responsible for racist murder in the Mediterranean.
It is to side with Cameron and British bosses who are attacking working class people and scapegoating migrants.
But if Cameron loses, it will cause a political crisis that he won’t be able to survive.
The EU is also facing a crisis—Britain leaving could begin to break it up. That can strengthen workers fighting the Tories here and those in Greece fighting austerity.
Socialist Worker argues, “Solidarity with refugees and migrants—open the borders.
“Solidarity with workers fighting austerity, oppose the TTIP deal—exit left”.
Some on the pro-EU side claim that workers would be worse off and all migrants would be deported if Britain left the EU.
Some EU legislation has benefited workers.
But a bill going through parliament next week seeks opt-outs for doctors and nurses from the Working Time Directive, which prevent them from working dangerously long hours. This would be legal within the framework of the EU.
And immigration into Britain existed before the EU.
The Tories wouldn’t simply deport migrants, who big business and the public sector rely on, if Britain left the EU.
Whatever happens in the referendum,PP we need a powerful movement from below to break open the borders.
The majority of trade union leaders are lining up behind the EU.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady argued, “If the Brexit camp gets its way it’ll be down to Tory ministers to pick and choose which rights we keep.”
But the Tories can already pick and choose what rights workers have—if we let them. They are pursuing a harsh austerity programme and anti-union laws.
O’Grady claims that the “EU gives working people the right to paid holiday, parental leave, equal treatment for part timers and much more”.
Workers have these rights because unions fought for them.
The Unite union claims that the EU guarantees equal pay. But the Equal Pay Act was won after Ford Dagenham’s women machinists went on all-out strike in 1968.
Trade union leaders started to support the EU after the defeats of the 1980s.
They argued, “We can’t win against Margaret Thatcher so we have to look to the EU to give us rights.”
This same pessimism is used now to say the EU is the only shield to defend workers’ rights.
The bosses will attack workers whether Britain leaves the EU or not—we have to look to our own strength.
The left who are against the EU must not play into racist and nationalist arguments.
Most unions have come out in favour of the EU.
But others argue that the “free movement of labour” is only beneficial to bosses because it drives down wages.
This dangerously accepts the false argument that immigration undercuts wages.
All the academic studies show that immigration has very little or no impact on wage levels—and may even raise them.
The EU is a deeply undemocratic institution.
But Socialist Worker rejects arguments about defending “British sovereignty” or “national independence” against the EU.
There are no national solutions, such as simply putting up trade barriers, to the crisis of capitalism.
We are against cuts and attacks on workers—whether they come from Westminster or the EU.
A statement by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) on the EU referendum appeared in the Guardian newspaper last week.
It demands that none of the right wing leave campaigns are given official status by the Electoral Commission—and that no public money is given to them.
Sign the statement at: bit.ly/1LpLXco
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