Why We’re Voting to Remain in the EU

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.

The two Britains

There are two Britains. Divided not by left and right but between the haves and the have-nots. One Britain is prosperous and the other is struggling. One is embracing globalisation, the other is suspicious of it. One believes the nation is going to hell in a handcart whilst the other is on the Eurostar for a weekend in Paris.

They exist in the same towns and in the same streets. They can be young or old, North or South. There are many divisions; they share the same pubs and cinemas but they never mix. The intensity of the EU debate is because of this great cultural gulf, not the cause of it.

The fact that there are two Britains means that the leave/remain arguments from both sides seem irreconcilable. Do you want your country to be modern and outward looking? Or do you want your country back? The two Britains speak past each other and not to each other. When they do address each other, it is to call the other side stupid or corrupt.

For too long our leaders have only appealed to one of the two Britains. All our leaders and MPs, on both the left and the right (save for a few rare exceptions) come from the prosperous Britain. Some politicians (again almost always from the prosperous Britain) have mobilised the less prosperous Britain to upset the establishment and extend their own influence. They have raised populism, anti-politics and hatred of elites to achieve this. The Westminster bubble, the expenses scandal, politicians refusing to give straight answers and sometimes showing concept for the public: all these are very real, but fan the flame of anti-politics lit by those who stand to gain from starting a fire under the establishment.

Not all the politicians and writers exploiting the anger of the less prosperous Britain and directing it at the political establishment are conservative or in favor of Brexit. The radical left, of which I am supporter, has been complicit in stirring up anti-politics, populism and hatred of the political establishment. This was done in the name of fighting neoliberal hegemony. However, pointing at business and media elites and shouting about how there is a conspiracy against the public has been used to cover up the lack of a convincing economic model to replace capitalism. The radical left is partly responsible for the appeal of anti-politics and the hatred of politicians.

Plenty of politicians from outside the dominant parties are also responsible for spreading anti-politics sentiment. Nigel Farage is the self-appointed spokesperson for the frequently ignored Britain, whether they agree with him or not. He has used his position to fan the hatred of mainstream politics, because it is the easiest way of achieving his political goals. Through repeating the lie that the media and mainstream political parties are out to suppress him, Farage encourages the hate of the political establishment.

The prosperous Britain is far from blameless for the spread of anti-politics and disillusionment. There are plenty of metropolitan liberals (who vote either Labour or Conservative) who sneer that any argument for Brexit is racist or stupid. They cry about the threat to recovery from Brexit, without ever thinking that there are towns in Britain that have not recovered from the 1980s. What difference does boom and bust make to perpetual poverty?

There are Tories in large houses who deny the realities of poverty and claim that the poor are poor because they are lazy. These are the people who cannot see why everyone else does not aspire to be more like them. They care nothing for those left behind by the relentless march of globalisation.

There are Labour and Green voters who swell with sympathy for the less well-off, just so long as it does not involve talking to them, listening to them, looking at them or visiting where they live. These people want to make a better world, so long as they do not have to give up their iPhone or holidays to Italy. The prosperous Britain shows indifference or outright hostility to the less prosperous Britain and is responsible for expanding the divide.

We are reaching the point where our political system is starting to break down under the tension of this division. We cannot shout about politicians being in the pocket of big business without spreading disillusionment with politics. We cannot tell someone that their country has been stolen from them and not expect them to despise the political establishment. We cannot sneer and degrade other people’s opinions without pushing them further away.

The immigration issue is symptomatic. Calling out racism is always a worthy cause, but mixed in with the genuine bigots are millions of people with unanswered concerns about housing and jobs that feel ignored or dismissed by the main parties. The root causes of these concerns have more to do with the legacy of the 1980s and the run-down of the welfare state than immigration, but they have been simmering away unaddressed for years in less prosperous Britain. The failure of the two Britains to communicate with each other on the issue lurks behind Farage’s noxious ‘Breaking Point’ posters as well as the watch-it-burn mentalilty of Brexit.

So how do we heal the rift between the two Britains? Is the solution a strong evidence based political campaign to bring us together? A campaign of honest debate and not emotional blustering? This seems optimistic as the two Britains seem entirely unwilling to engage with the arguments of each other. The EU debate is an example of this. One side shouts about the economy, the other about immigration. There is no debate. Trying to create a new consensus around intelligent debate is not going to work.

Perhaps we could try to understand each other, to see what drives the anger of each side. It seems we are drifting towards a situation where our differences can only be resolved by direct conflict and not empathy. This will be unpopular because understanding sounds like compromise and compromise sound like giving up. We need to swear off anger and hate if we are to heal the rift between the two nations.

This week Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen was murdered in her consistency. Her death is an enormous loss to British politics and at this point we do not know the full story. What we do know is that this did not happen in a vacuum. Widespread hatred of politicians is a fact of contemporary political discourse. We need to stand up to the hatred of politicians. We need to stop anti-politics. We need to heal the divide between the two Britains. Understanding is the only antidote to hatred and division. Tragedies like this cut us deeply and show how divided we are as a society.

We need to stop talking across each other and start listening to each other. We need to stop every radical left winger who finds it easier to spread hatred of politicians than to argue coherently for their cause. We need to stop every right winger wants to spread hatred of some group or other to gain influence. We need to stop every person from the prosperous Britain who denies the need for change, who denies the divide between the two Britains itself. We need to find a way to make the two Britians one again.

Please donated to the Go Fund Me campaign set up in memory of Jo Cox and to support causes that were important to her. More details can be found here:


Will Britain leave the EU?

Will Britain leave the EU?

Britain's EU membership is divisive on the left and the right. In conversations recently, I have been told on separate occasions that there are no valid arguments for staying in or leaving the EU. I believe there is a case for both remaining in the EU and for leaving it. Leaving aside which way you should vote, can we predict what the result is likely to be?

The polls are currently predicting a narrow win for the remain camp, but after last year's surprise general election result, faith in polling is low. All polls should be taken with a pinch of salt at this point.

The majority of the electorate has not made up their mind. Very few people engage with politics outside of a general election, and the looming implications of the referendum are yet to dawn on most people. The majority of voters will decide 2 weeks or less beforehand, around the time they realise that their vote matters because referendum results are more proportional than a general election.

The way a voter makes up their mind is important when considering the outcome of any vote. In the EU referendum the argument for leaving is mainly an emotional one. It hinges on the belief that the EU is crushing British identity and pushing the country in a direction the people do not want to go in. If you on the right this is epitomised by uncontrolled migration; on the left it is a corporate assault on the NHS. Voters who make up their mind based on emotional arguments are more likely to do this immediately before the election itself. Emotional decisions are quick ones, they feel instantly right.

The remain argument is a more logical one. It is simply that Britain will be better off as a member of the EU than outside it. It comes down to jobs and money. It is not inspiring, it is cold and rational. Voters who make decisions based on logic tend to make them further in advance. This is why polls taken further out from an election will generally return a result that follows an argument based on logic. Polls taken nearer to an election will show a greater degree of voters influenced by their emotions.

With most voters likely to make up their minds only in the final few weeks, the emotional resonance of the leave argument is yet to have an impact. This makes it difficult to predict what the result will be this far in advance.

A case in point is the Scottish Independence referendum. Similarly, remain was a logical decision, based on jobs and money, and leave was an emotional decision, based on freedom and national identity. Polls taken far in advance showed a clear majority for remain, whereas polls taken immediately before the vote showed a majority in favour of leaving. Remain started strong and slowly declined as emotional voters moved from the undecided to the leave camp.

On the day, more voters were influenced by the logical arguments based around the money in their banks accounts than an emotional appeal to their national identity. However the emotional argument still resonated and that has translated into continuing success for the SNP.

There is clearly a lot of dissatisfaction with the EU. The left have found it hard to articulate their support in a concrete way. There are lots of problems with the EU - how undemocratic it is, how secretive it is, and how it pushes a neoliberal agenda on its members. I get the feeling that many on the left support the remain campaign because the leaders of the leave campaign are so repulsive. There is very little willingness to agree with Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Nigel Farage or George Galloway (regardless of how the latter sees himself as the saviour of the left).

I always thought of myself as intrinsically pro EU membership. But when I tried to articulate my reasons for this in a positive way, I found it hard to build a concrete argument. A lot of things I like about EU membership - visa free travel and the diversity of London - are unlikely to disappear if we leave. We currently do not need visas to visit Iceland, Norway, Switzerland or Israel, and London will always be a cultural melting pot.

The argument for remaining is mainly the frightening thought that if we leave, there will be job losses and the Tories will be free to do whatever they want to the people of Britain. This negative argument makes me doubt my own support for EU membership.

My own experience seems to be symptomatic. There is a lack of a positive pro-EU vision coming from the left, and without this, many of those who support EU membership do so grudgingly.

If this shortage of enthusiasm on Election Day results in low turnout from left wing voters then Brexit will become more likely - those who are passionately anti-EU will be guaranteed to vote. If the left cannot find a positive and inspiring argument for EU membership then Britain will leave the EU.

The polls may indicate that Britain is staying in the EU, but I think the question of whether Britain will leave is still wide open. This far out it is too difficult to take an accurate reading. If I had to make a prediction, it would be that whichever sides wins, it will be by the narrowest of margins.

Why Corbyn needs to be a positive defender of Britain in the EU

There are plenty of papers covering the "he said, she said" of the EU referendum. I want to take a step back and look at the campaign as a whole. As well the referendum being an important decision for the future of the country, it is an important political opportunity for Labour. As such, it is important that Labour shows a united front and that they take advantage of Tory divisions over Britain’s EU membership.

So far the Tories have kept their disagreements over the EU private because the Labour poll ratings have been so dire. Parties facing defeat show much less unity, for example the Tories in early 90s. There is currently a strong incentive for Tory MPs to stay in the good books of the leadership, i.e. being rewarded with government jobs in the 2020s.

However the mask of Tory unity is slipping. Boris Johnson is dividing the party by giving some credibility and popularity to the No campaign. This a careerist move from Boris, who views this as his last chance to become Tory leader and thus Prime Minister. Barbed words have already been exchanged between Boris and David Cameron, and the rift will only grow as Boris and George Osborn battle it out to be the heir apparent when Cameron steps down.

Labour's own divisions make it difficult to take advantage of the Tory split. This is why it is important for Labour to show a united front in the EU referendum. However, this is made harder by the fact that Labour's leader is not convinced of the benefit of EU membership. There are a lot of problems with the EU from a left wing perspective (TTIP is the tip of the iceberg) but the only way that the Labour Party can achieve socialist goals is through working with other left wing parties in a united Europe. Labour need to get behind the EU.

The left wing vote is needed for Britain to stay in the EU. This is why Alan Johnson is leading the passionately pro EU Labour In campaign. It is this positive approach to Europe that the country needs, not a scare campaign based on jobs and security that Britain Stronger in Europe will offer. Labour In is needed because if the left stay home on referendum day, the leave vote will win. Labour In is a great chance for the party to be the decisive element in British politics.

Corbyn and the Labour left need to take the upper hand if they want to stay in control of the party. There have been too many headlines about in-fighting and arguments between the Labour leadership and the PLP. The Tories are trying to maximise the divisions in Labour by moving forward the vote on renewing Trident. Labour need to do likewise, by making Tory divisions over Europe as big as possible, while putting on a well organised and united campaign to stay. If Corbyn can organise a united Labour Party, on the side of what most people want, against a divided and unpopular mid-term government, then he can turn the tide of bad headlines around.

This is a huge opportunity for Labour and Corbyn. A passionate, positive defence of the EU against a divided Tory party will show the public that Labour under Corbyn can be an effective opposition. People will believe Corbyn if he campaigns to stay in the EU. It plays to his strengths, namely that people think he is honest and believe what he has to say, which is unlike most politicians or his PLP rivals. He can even present his earlier wavering to his advantage - he considered both options sensibly, like the rest of us, before making an informed, balanced decision. Corbyn needs to take this opportunity to do what only he can do, show the county how Labour are different from the Tories.

Labour must be well disciplined, on the side of the voters and against a divided government. Above all, they must be positive, avoiding a mirror image of Farage’s knee-jerk rhetoric or the scare tactics of Cameron's stay in campaign. This will not only win the EU referendum for remain, but will also win back control of the headlines. Corbyn needs to seize this opportunity to start winning.

The problems with the staying in the EU argument

The referendum date has been set and the campaigning has started in earnest. Even at this early stage, it looks likely that the vote to remain will win. David Cameron and George Osborne will be stressing the threats to the UK if we vote to leave the European Union, and this concern about the loss of jobs will trump any worries over immigration or British sovereignty.

The argument that we should vote to stay in the EU because of the jobs loss that will result if we leave is a powerful one, but is it the best course of action for the pro-EU side? I think they would prefer to run a positive campaign that inspires people about the role the UK can play in Europe, but they will ultimately fall back on the vision of an isolated and impoverished Britain outside the EU.

The industry that stands to lose the most from an EU exit is the finance and banking industry. The City of London is the financial core of the EU and, if we vote to leave, then many global finance companies will relocate to Frankfurt to get better access to the EU’s financial markets. The resulting loss of jobs would be felt up and down the country, when we consider the supply chain that financial companies are plugged into. Many companies outside the City are dependent on the economic activity that goes on there, and if you remove those London companies there will be job losses in Newcastle, Bristol and Blackburn.

I hate having to admit that the UK economy is dependent on the whims of bankers; that they could choose to leave at any movement, and that would cause a lot of economic problems. That line of thought leads to the argument that we need to be as nice to bankers as possible - not tax or regulate them too much - to keep them happy and employing everyone else. There is a serious argument to be made about how unbalanced the British economy is and how dependent upon the finance sector we are, but in the short run we have to work with the economy we have.

Do we want to be a part of a Europe that exists to further the interests of the financial industry? Not really, is my answer, but an existence of principled poverty is equally unappealing. Still this argument is not the stuff of folk songs and banners. "Vote yes so that we're not totally fucked." “Daddy, what did you do during the great EU debate of 2016?" "Well son, I soberly told everyone that the EU is not perfect but we are reliant on it and we need to make a pragmatic decision based on jobs and the economy." This is no one’s ideas of our finest hour.

The argument that we are more secure within the EU goes beyond the jobs that will be lost if we leave. Europe is facing an unprecedented level of challenges, from migration to Russian expansionism, from environmental crisis to financial instability. The UK needs to be involved with Europe to participate in the solution to these problems, rather than just burying our heads in Union Flag bunting and hoping that the problems will go away.

However this is also another scare tactic to convince people to vote to stay in. The message is that Britain will be overloaded with refugees we cannot house, then drowned under melted polar ice, bankrupt from financial chaos and then crushed by Russian tanks. It is not an argument to convince anyone to love the European Union, it just makes voters frightened of the lonely world outside the EU.

The EU needs better PR if the stay campaign want to really convince people that EU membership is something important to be protected. The yes campaign is trying to be positive about the benefits of EU membership, but it will not be as effective as a scare campaign. After all, a positive message about British togetherness and shared successes during the Olympics had little effect during the Scottish Independence Referendum. Messages of doom and gloom if Scotland left the union did work.

The issue is that not many people in Britain love the EU. Although most will probably vote to stay in out of fear of the consequences of leaving. The problems of Britain's antipathy towards the EU will not be resolved by a campaign that bullies voters into staying in. The yes side need a campaign that appeals to people's hopes and aspirations for a better tomorrow, what we can achieve by working with our European neighbours. It needs to be positive and effective to settle this issue once and for all.

My biggest fear is that a yes campaign based on scare tactics will ultimately win but will not satisfy anyone. Britain will remain a part of the EU, but dislike of the EU will be at an all time high. Being reminded that we need the EU because we have to keep the finance industry happy - or else they will take away our jobs - and that the finance industry likes the EU is not a strategy to inspire affection and confidence in the European Project. Britain may vote to stay in, but the desire to leave will be stronger than before.

Ultimately this will not settle the issue and will only sow the seeds of another referendum, especially if a new EU treaty is proposed. We need a debate around this referendum that leads to some concencious over the EU, not one which leads to more hostility in the future. Those who are set in taking the UK out of the EU must get the clear message that Britain wants to stay in, or else they will begin this process all over again.

The problem with the yes campaign is that a strategy based on frightening the electorate will not settle the issue of whether EU membership is in Britain's interests. We need a positive campaign about the EU to convince the electorate once and for all of the benefits of Britain taking an active role in the EU. A scare campaign maybe the easiest route to victory, but in the long run it will fan the flames of the desire to leave the EU.

The left wing case for staying in the EU

Recently I laid out the left wing case of leaving the European Union. This was aimed more as a counterpoint to UKIP and their xenophobia than it was to those who want Britain to remain a part of the EU. Many on the left believe there is a lot to be gained from Britain having an active role in Europe, so here is the left wing case for staying in the EU:

The EU is generally more left wing than the British government has been over the last few decades, especially on economic issues. EU regulations prevent the worst excesses of private business. Health and safety standards and working time directives protect us from unsafe working conditions and long gruelling hours. I cannot imagine the Cameron or Blair governments passing the same laws.

Atlantean free marketeers (like Douglas Carswell) see this EU referendum as an opportunity to reduce regulation and government oversight of the British economy so that it becomes more competitive. George Monbiot aptly describes these as “rules that prevent children from being poisoned by exhaust fumes, rivers from being turned into farm sewers and workers from being exploited by their bosses.” Without the EU we will have less job security and less safety in the workplace.

The issue of large companies avoiding tax is also one that can only be tackled at an international level. The Conservative government has shown that it is intensely relaxed about large companies paying little or no tax, despite the fact these companies benefiting from government spending on education, healthcare, transportation, etc. The European Union has already indicated that it might force Google to pay more tax than the paltry sum which George Osborne negotiated with the search giant. In the age of globalisation and multinational companies, only multinational governments can hold large private firms to account and make them pay their taxes.

The greatest argument in favour of Britain taking an active role in the EU is that our future is intertwined with the EU countries, whether we are inside the EU or not. Our cultures and people are intertwined. There are 2.3 million people from other EU countries living inside Britain, bringing with them a huge diversity in language, food, religion and culture. There are also 1.26 million British people living abroad in other EU countries. If we left the EU these connections will still be present, the people of Europe will still be mixed together, but Britain would have no political voice in this shared European society.

I love the diversity and that immigration that EU membership brings to this county. I believe it makes us a more tolerant and flexible society, easily able adapt to the challenges of the future. With conflict spreading in the Middle East, China's economy slowing down and environmental crises looming Britain needs all the strengths and diversity of opinion it can get. The right thinks the free market can solve these problems, the left knows that only with European governments working together through the EU can these issues be tackled.

In the refugee crisis, Europe is being tested by an external shock. All the countries in Europe have been affected by the huge influx of people. With climate change meaning more environmental disasters and sea levels rising, we will see a lot of immigration into Europe over the next few decades. This will affect all of Europe and Britain needs to part of the solution. Pulling up the drawbridge will not work.

I believe in the wider EU project, the idea that it is in the interest of all the European countries to work together to solve the problems we are all facing. Europe is stronger when its countries are united in government as well as in purpose. The EU is the larger structure that allows European governments to respond collectively to the challenges of a globalised world. A country like Britain does not have the clout or the economy to influence global events alone, but by working with our neighbours we can be a powerful force for good in the world.

The nations of Europe have not fought a war between each other since the inception of the European Union, because we recognise that it is in all of our best interests to work together, share resources (such as labour and capital) where needed and to tackle problems with a united front. The EU is certainly not perfect and reform is needed to improve its ability to achieve this mission, but if we are to meet the challenges of the future then we need a multinational government with British representation. Leaving the EU is to sacrifice co-operation with our neighbours in favours of a mythical belief in the superiority of Britain.

The left wing case for leaving the EU

"Who will speak for England?" the Daily Mail asked, last Thursday, as they tore into Cameron's negotiated deal with the European Union. The announcement of this framework acts as a firing pistol for the race to secure Britain's place either in or out of the EU and has triggered a national debate about the merits of Brexit.

Certainly the EU is not perfect; the way Greece has been treated over the last few years has led me to firmly consider a vote to leave. However one issue is not enough for me to make up my mind. The arguments for both staying and leaving are complex, and reflect the politics of the person arguing. We have heard a lot from Nigel Farage, Douglas Carswell and Chris Grayling about the horrors of the EU, but in the midst of all this anti-immigration table thumping it has been largely overlooked that there is a solidly left wing case for leaving the EU.

On some level I feel obliged to support the EU just to spite the people I really hate - namely UKIP. Personally, I do quite well out of the EU. I live in London, which is awash with European cash, and no one loves the European city break more than me. However, I recognise that other people might not benefit quite so much from EU membership and I want to vote in the interests of people who are not as well off as I am, rather than my own.

On that note, what follows is the left wing case for Brexit. At some point in the near future the left wing case for staying in the EU will follow.

The first major point is that most people do not know what the EU is for or what it does. Aside from a few nebulous points about bringing Europe together, what does the EU actually do? The EU does has a profound affect on all our lives, mainly it provides the regulatory framework that Europe wide businesses operate under. These large companies employ a significant proportion of the British workforce and heavily contribute to our GDP. However the British voter is so disconnected from the decision making process behind this regulatory framework that we cannot have much of a say in how the EU is run.

Due to this, the EU is less accountable than our own national governments. Most people do not have a good understand of the issues and factions within the EU, which makes it very hard to have an informed opinion during European elections. I am very interested in politics, and even I cannot name the main centre left and centre right blocs within the MEPs.

I find it deeply worrying how disconnected we are from the debates in Brussels, which fundamentally limits the British voter's ability to have a say in how the EU is run. For this reason I would prefer decisions to be made closer to home, so that more people can participate in and feel affected by politics. This opinion extends to a belief that more power should be moved from Westminster to town halls around the country.

The regulatory framework that the EU provides exists to make it easier for multinational companies, mainly banks, to operate in the single European market. It grew out of the European Coal and Steel Community and has always sought to make Europe richer by providing a more stimulating environment for business. Whether intentionally or not, it mainly serves the interests of large financial companies and companies wanting cheap labour to drive down the cost of production.

TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) deal is good example of this. It is a proposed agreement between the EU and the USA, which will erode national government’s powers to regulate businesses. This is a clear example of the EU putting the needs of multinational corporations above its citizens. If we don’t want to be a part of TTIP then we need to leave.

Another example is the austerity imposed by the European Central bank on poorer EU nations. This has damaged the provision of social security, led to redundancies and wage cuts, depressed their struggling economies and resulted in huge privatisations in many countries. I do not want to be part of an EU that strips welfare and removes the provisions of public services from its poorer citizens.

Should a genuinely left wing government be elected in the UK, then the EU’s regulatory framework will make it harder for said government to implement its policies. Policies such as financial sector reform or higher progressive taxes on the wealthy will be difficult to implement in the single market of Europe, where it is easy for companies or individuals to move overseas where circumstances are more favourable. If the left wants to achieve socialism in Britain then we need to leave the EU and be fully in control of our own destiny.

Iceland is a shining example of how we should have dealt with the 2008 financial crisis. They allowed a few large banks to go bust, implemented legal reforms on the surviving banks and jailed bankers who were found to have broken the law. Iceland is also outside the EU and probably could not have done any of this if they weren’t. There are advantages to not having a seat at the table when the table is on fire.

As much as I love being able to interrail from country to country on my British passport, the reality of membership is not so rosey for low paid workers. Open borders and free movement of labour has driven down wages of low skilled workers, while allowing British firms to move jobs overseas where labour costs are less. Jobs in trades or construction that used to be well paid are now minimum wage jobs because of the income eroding power of the unregulated EU labour market.

This could be prevented if the government provided more protection to workers and invested in training for the low skilled. However this Tory government has clearly put the needs of large companies, which save money from the supply of cheap low skilled labour, above the well-being of these workers themselves. The only option to protect low skilled workers is to vote to leave the EU.

The case for voting to leave the EU goes beyond the anti-immigration arguments of UKIP and eurosceptic Tories. There are strong left wing arguments for leaving the EU, as the EU is more interested in helping businesses than helping ordinary people. If we want to use government to challenge the power of the financial sector and to help the poorest members of society, then it will be necessary to leave.

If you are interested in reading the left wing case for staying in the EU then it can be found here.