It will cause the worst recession in recorded history. Every single firm in the country (apart from Wetherspoons) will fail and everyone in the country will be unemployed. The very cliffs of Dover themselves will split and fall into the sea. Also Great Cthulhu will rise out of the English Channel to spread madness and death across the land.
At least that is what will happen if you believe David Cameron’s warnings about the risks of Brexit. The Prime Minister has made so many doom-laden predictions about the post-EU future that you wonder why he allowed this vote to go ahead at all. If the risk of leaving the EU is so massive then surely this referendum should have been avoided at any cost?
Cameron’s rhetoric aside, it is very likely that the UK will be economically worse off outside the EU than in. In the past, we’ve complained about the economic doom-mongering from the Remain campaign. Not because their projections are inaccurate, but because it’s a scare tactic designed to bully us into staying in the EU. This, of course, does not make the argument a lie. Without wanting to get too philosophical, the truth can be scary.
Britain needs a positive argument for staying in the EU. Not one that boils down to the City of London exacting economic revenge on us if we dare to disobey them. Without it, nothing will be resolved by this referendum. EU disenfranchisement will be worse if we’re be bullied into staying. If we vote Brexit then it will be without a clear understanding of what we are leaving. Our thinking on Europe will not have advanced.
So here goes our attempt at outlining the positive pro-EU case that the Remain campaign should have made. They should focused on the mixing of cultures that has been allowed by the free movement of people; Britain’s diversity has always been its strength. They should have mentioned that the EU is a venue where nations can work together to face the threats of the future, economic instability, international terrorism, rampant nationalism and climate change.
Remain should have reminded us that the EU is a shared collective endeavor; that we can achieve more together than apart. This all sounds pretty positive, doesn’t it?
<p class="p1">If that argument seems a bit abstract, then here are some more concrete positive things the EU can do. Firstly, it can regulate trans-national capital. In an age of globalisation, questions around national sovereignty are academic at best. Only large trans-national organization can stand up to the power of big business, and make them pay their taxes.
The EU guarantees workers’ rights, in part by maintaining a level playing field, preventing countries competing to provide the most ‘business friendly’ regulatory framework. The threat to workers’ rights from Brexit is stark.
A “bonfire of British workers’ rights” is likely to follow a Brexit vote. The last thing we want to see is Boris Johnson and Michael Gove given the freedom to do whatever they want to low-paid British workers. It isn’t the Johnson and Gove set that stand to lose out in the recession that will follow Brexit. In fact it’s their set that stand to gain from the extreme neo-liberal Britain that they will build outside the EU, without pesky things like human rights and environmental controls to get in their way. With Johnson in Number 10 and Gove at Number 11 we’ll see just how nasty the Tory right’s vision of Britain’s future gets.
The referendum campaigns have both been insultingly awful, but Gove and Johnson have outdone themselves in this race to the bottom. After their economic argument failed to gain any sort of traction, the Tory Brexiters and the right wing press have turned their full attention to whipping up fear of migrants, especially Turks. As a last resort they’ve appealed to Britain’s xenophobic tendencies to get their result. We cannot let them win with this nasty campaign that has demeaned us all.
If we vote for Brexit, this xenophobic sentiment will only get worse. In several years time Prime Minister Boris Johnson will still be negotiating our withdrawal from the EU and migration levels will have remained the same. Brexit will not be the quick fix to the nations problems that leave promises. Then where will the hatred that the Leave campaign has awoken be directed? At immigrants with the right to remain? At British citizens who people think resemble migrants? It’s frightening to consider where this may lead.
Being pro-Remain and left wing means recognizing the benefits of immigration, but also being honest about the pressure it can put on wages and conditions. These are Labour issues, but all too often, Labour and the left have dismissed any concerns as racist, failing to grasp that a sense of abandonment that has led to immigration becoming a lightning rod issue for a myriad of grievances.
This attitude needs to change. We need progressive, compassionate policies to manage the effects of immigration and public perception of it. Only then can we begin to address the toxic division and scapegoating whipped up by Farage and the Tory right.
This is not say that everyone who votes to leave the EU is motivated solely by fear of migration. There are plenty of understandable left wing reasons - the EU is certainly a very flawed organization. It has treated Greece appallingly, it has forced austerity on countries where the youth unemployment rate is over 40% and it could do a lot more to stand up to trans-national companies that disregard their social obligations.
We understand the temptation to light the blue touch-paper and run, but this is a time for putting out fires, not igniting them. The alternative is to give more power to a callous Tory government.
Our view is that we must remain part of the EU - and then reform it from within. By working with our neighbours we can create something larger than ourselves, something greater than the sum of our parts. Another Europe really is possible. Whatever happens, we will continue to belong to the continent, and we need to be involved in the important decisions that take place there.
We can see a positive future for the EU, but it has to fought for. This begins with voting to Remain. Then we fight for a better Europe together.