Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2455

EU referendum debate can’t be left to racists

This article is over 6 years, 7 months old
Issue 2455

The Tory right and the racist Ukip want to use the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU) to ramp up racism. They argue that if Britain leaves the EU then tougher immigration controls can be imposed.

Every flag-waving nationalist and bigot will crawl out from underneath their rock to argue against the EU shackling “our” freedoms. Socialist Worker will be at the forefront of campaigning against the scapegoating of migrants. But we won’t side with any “keep Britain in” campaign either.  

Lined up on that side is Tory prime minister David Cameron and the majority of the British ruling class. That’s because the EU is a bosses’ club and is no guarantor of workers’ rights. It polices austerity across the continent. 

For the last five years, it has imposed brutal austerity on workers in Greece. It is determined to defeat any attempt to break free from its stranglehold. But it’s not just a matter of the wrong policies. The EU is a thoroughly pro-business project.

The process of European integration got underway because European capitalists outgrew the markets that their nation states could provide. 

British business wants to remain in the EU in order to maintain its profits. Some on the right who oppose the EU will try to make leaving it about controlling immigration. But staying in it is no guarantee that workers will be able to move freely. Bosses want a flexible pool of labour within the EU and stop the people from outside getting in.


It’s because of the EU’s “Fortress Europe” that thousands of migrants are are dying in the Mediterranean. 

Cameron wants both EU membership and tougher immigration controls. We cannot rely on the ruling class to stand up for migrants. 

When business needs more labour it will encourage migration. But bosses will also whip up racism to divide workers.

Socialists must make a principled defence of migrants—from both outside and inside the EU—based on working class solidarity. Defending the bosses’ racist club doesn’t help us do this.

There is a difference between the international solidarity of the working class and the global cooperation of the capitalist class. Socialist Worker stands in solidarity with Greek workers’ battle against austerity. Breaking with the EU can help them weaken the shackles of austerity.

A vote against the EU could also cause a crisis for our rulers. The Tory party could rip itself apart over its divisions on Europe.

If socialists abstain from making our arguments only the racist right would gain from such a crisis.

But by building struggle we can push back their poison.

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance