I’m on record saying that the EU is profoundly undemocratic and so we should leave. It’s one of the ironies of modern politics that ultra-right wing Enoch Powell (for younger readers: a kind of better educated and less spiv-like version of Farage) and the renowned leftie Tony Benn were both on the same side of the European debate.
It’s enough to make your head spin. The EU is lots of bad things. There are too many appointed officials, commissioners, officers etc., who all owe their positions to patronage. Meanwhile, the actual EU parliament is toothless and pointless, populated by chancers and opportunists who have taken advantage of widespread public indifference and low turnout. The EU enshrines an unfair economic system and forces countries that join it to operate under the same, narrow set of neoliberal capitalist policies. It owes too much to the banks and the corporations.
EU environment is afflicted by the common agricultural policy, which has, over decades rewarded rich landowners who do shitty things to the land, destroying topsoil, chopping down hedgerows etc.
All of that is why I’ve always been kinda against our membership.
But when it comes to it, I’m voting in. And I’m not sure my reasons are solid, but here they are.
Firstly, if we are resigned to living under capitalism, and if capital (money) has free movement, then it stands to reason that people should too. I’m not just in favour of migration within the EU; I’d do away with passports and border controls all over the world. If the money can move, the people should follow. And if you want to restrict the free movement of people, then you have to restrict free trade. Which means tariffs and taxes and limits and quotas.
Secondly (which is still firstly), I hate this country and want the option, when I retire, of living elsewhere. That’s my selfish reason.
Thirdly, as bad and as undemocratic as the EU is, our current government is worse. Without the restraints offered by enshrined working rules and workers’ rights, businesses in this country would be able to treat their workers even worse than they currently do. We don’t do worker’s councils and workplace democracy like the Germans. If we did, I wouldn’t be so worried. I don’t understand why we don’t (except in the basest terms: that British bosses are cunts, always have been and always will be, thanks to the class system), but we, as workers, get more protection from our employers in the EU than we would out of it. We’re also signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is nothing to do with the EU, but is probably in the sights of the Brexiters.
So, one, two, three: but one and two are the same: free movement. And three: workers’ rights. Limits on working hours. Maternity and paternity leave. Holidays. Sick leave. Weekends. Just think: everything working people had to fight for over 100 years or so. How quickly would it all disappear if people like Mike Ashley, Boris, Gove, and Philip Green were given free rein?