There are still many people on the traditional, economic-Left planning to vote leave on June 23rd, and the #Lexit hashtag is still going strong on social media. There are some convincing arguments for Lexit, but the option just isn’t on the ballot paper.
Throughout the EU’s history it has been a project centered around free-market capitalism, and high profile figures on the Left like Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner and even Jeremy Corbyn, have been some of the loudest opponents of the project over the years. But now the tables have turned. Now that the EU has become a platform for environmental regulation, product standards and social equality, the far-Right are the ones who want out.
The leave campaign has been absolutely dominated by talk of deregulation and border control. Of the big names in the “Vote Leave” camp, not one is offering Britain a leftist vision for the future. There has been talk of scrapping the social chapter and making workers’ rights more “flexible”. These people, these staunch free-marketeers, are in charge of negotiating our relationship with the EU in case of a leave vote. They don’t care about the case for Lexit, their case for leaving is all about big business.
Every major Left, centre-Left or centrist political party has officially hedged their bets on a remain vote. The Green Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party are all backing “remain” on June 23rd. Some of the biggest trade unions like Unite, Unison, GMB and USDAW back a remain vote. Environmental charities like the WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB want to stay in Europe. A vote to Leave will not, in any way, be seen by the country as a mandate for the Left to set the agenda. A leave vote will be seen as a victory for the Conservative far-Right, UKIP and the likes of Rupert Murdoch, The Daily Express and The Daily Mail. A leave vote is a mandate for deregulation, dodgy trade deals and rampant free-marketeering. You can call this scaremongering if you like, but frankly this is a scary situation. A campaign run largely by xenophobes, climate-change deniers and tax-dodging press barons could set the political agenda in the UK for a whole generation.
I’ll end on an injection of positivity – there is a great Lefty case for a remain vote. In an increasingly globalised world we need to cooperate to tackle the big issues we face. We need to make sure that workers’ rights, product standards and environmental regulations cross borders for the greater good. Within the EU, we have our own say in the laws of an entire continent. We stand together with 500 million other voices to negotiate with the rest of the world. The tide of the EU is turning and it is increasingly becoming a platform by which environmentalists and social progressives from all over Europe can come together to change the world for the better. The leftist case for remain is a great one, and it’s definitely on the ballot paper on June 23rd.