Although the majority of voters opted to leave the European Union (EU) in last year’s referendum it’s by no means a done deal, with the Tories deeply divided over the issue and the majority of Labour’s MPs openly ‘Remainers’ regardless of what the Corbyn leadership may say.
This was the central theme of a meeting at London’s Conway Hall held by the Communist Party of Britain’s (CPB) London District last week. The speakers included CPB leader Rob Griffiths, Luton Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins and Lindsey German from the Stop the War campaign, as well as union officials from Unite and the RMT.
Kevin Hopkins, the co-chair of Labour Leave, pointed out that in the past the majority of the labour movement opposed the then Common Market. He said: “The EU is about transferring power from state governments to the European Commission, not to the European Parliament. Its aims are to liberalise, marketise and privatise.”
Hopkins quoted Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the EU, who was never actually elected to public office, saying in 1952: “Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening.”
Rob Griffiths said: “Jeremy Corbyn has pointed out that many Labour policies are not compatible with continued membership of the EU. The only solution is to get out with no enormous divorce bill, no EU rules and no European Defence Policy.
“The Communist Party will be holding discussions with the Labour Party, trade unions and its allies to push for this. There are many working class activists, trade unionists, and communists who want to get out of the EU, a big business, fortress Europe imperialist capitalist club.”
For her part Lindsey German said that Brexit voters were victims of naked class prejudice, widely branded as ignorant, working class Sun readers, and that the campaign to reverse Brexit was aimed at weakening Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.
She attacked right-wing Labour MPs and their friends in the press for labelling Brexit voters “anti-immigrant” and creating an uproar about EU citizens’ rights, whilst the rights of people from the Commonwealth had been under attack for decades.
The Stop the War convenor gave examples of the EU’s reactionary policies, including forcing Greece to slash pensions and privatise on a mass scale, and supporting the Spanish government against Catalonia, the opposite of its backing for the disintegration of Yugoslavia.
It was refreshing to hear a labour movement panel argue for Brexit at the Conway Hall even though none of the speakers spelt out what they meant by the “left alternative” or “Lexit” that they all talk about. If we fail to do this then the discussion on the street will never go beyond the parameters set by Tory Brexiteers who want out in order to create a global tax haven based on a low-wage economy purely to boost the profits of the exploiters and oppressors whom they serve.