On June 23 next, the United Kingdom citizenry will vote on this essential question : shall the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union ? The referendum on the Brexit presents the British people with the opportunity to escape the neoliberal cage that the European Union is, and to regain their national sovereignty.
In 2013, faced with a rising UKIP (the party for the independence of the United Kingdom) and to answer the eurosceptics in his own side, Tory Prime Minister David Cameron had promised a referendum on this issue before 2017 ends. After having negotiated with the EU a "special status" for Britain, David Cameron called for a referendum.
EU membership has been an issue for a long time in Britain, with a first referendum on June 5, 1975 (turnout : 64,5% ; Yes : 67,09% ; No : 32,70% ; blank or spoiled votes : 0,21%). A flood of figures from economists and political staff alike has overwhelmed us for weeks. Yet, these figures only say what one wants them to say. The Brexit is not a computable event because there is no comparable precedent. The techniques used to measure its effects are partial and biased.
Thinking on a political level is required – without figures.
The stakes for the British government : keeping its dominating position
Since Margaret Thatcher, Britain has been the spearhead of European neoliberal politicies – even if the country does not belong to the EuroZone.
It is the stronghold of free-trade which does not only make products compete against each others, but also social systems. The social rights gained during the postwar decades have become unacceptable for the neoliberals, which leads to the destruction of social achievements and trade union movements. It is the stronghold of financial liberalization, embodied by the City in London – that is, free-trade applied to money, which allows financial and monetary flows to speculate massively and immediately worldwide, in an unrestricted manner The active participation to multilateral institutions – the world neoliberal order watchdogs – makes it out of reach of any democratic pressure. The European Union and its treaties are the most accomplished form thereof. It is the US bridgehead in Europe. Britain seceding from the EU would cause a strategic and political prejudice to the Empire. That is the reason why Mr Obama came to exhort the British to vote remain.
The stake for the European Union : speeding up the neoliberal project
The British exit from the EU will come with a very high political price. It may encourage other Union members most likely to request specific advantages while threatening to walk out. The fear of the domino effect is at work. Like Severin Cabannes (the number two man at Societe Generale) puts it : "The real danger would be that the Brexit gives other European Union Member States the idea to do the same." But that's not all... "If on June 23 evening, the British choose to secede from the EU, the European institutions will have no other choice than record the vote and start exit negotiations," says Vivien Pertusot of IFRI. Here is the crucial difference with the Greek case. It will be difficult to put Britain under supervision. The demonstration will be made that it is possible to exit the EU without suffering any damage.
The stakes for the British : national independence
The key issue is to recover their national sovereignty undermined by the European treaties. It is the possibility to vote their own laws, to choose and build the society which they want to live in. Furthermore, the Brexit may shake the British political structure seriously, as much as the campaign for the NO to the European Constitutional Treaty in France, then its victory in 2005, had shaken ours back then.
The stakes for the peoples in the EU : a contagious example
- A victorious leave will prove it is possible to exit the EU, unilaterally, without getting stuck in the Article 50 quagmire.
- The illusion of a possible change of the EU nature will come to an end.
- A blinding light will be shed on the obsolete left/right divide : the two great parties – Labour and Tory – are torn.
- Prime Minister David Cameron is in favor of the remain ; former London Mayor Boris Johnson is campaigning for the leave.
The British left entangled in Europeanism.
In 1975, Jeremy Corbyn (Labour) who had voted against Britain's membership to the EEC – the EU predecessor – is in favor of the remain. Ten British trade unions published a letter in The Guardian calling their 6 million members to vote to remain : "After numerous debates and deliberations, we think that the social and cultural benefits of remaining in the EU far outweigh any advantages of leaving." The trade unions leaders deem that the EU has improved workers' rights over the last 30 years. "If Britain leaves the EU, we are in no doubt these protections will be under great threat." The trade unions stress out that the Tory government would negotiate an exit from the EU and would bargain away these rights. They declare that the EU "must change and turn its back to austerity policies". This position denies what the Greek, Italian, Spanish, French, German, etc, dominated classes have experimented. It forgets that precarity (self employment and zero hour contracts) were implemented by Her Gracious Majesty's successive governments. In all the Union countries, the destruction of social protection schemes and labor laws, the austerity forever, are imposed by the governments upon the "recommendations" issued by the European Commission. The domination by the "Union" has reached its peak with the total supervision of Greece, now colonized by the institutions and multinational firms. For a people, recovering its national sovereignty means being able to determine fully their destiny and fighting again successfully. By leaving the EU, its treaties and directives, the dominated classes will be able to confront their own dominating classes, face to face, without them being supported by the European technostructure. For the dominated classes, it is always easier to get rid of a national government, in each country, than to reform the EU and its Commission from within. Another consequence : the EU structures would be destabilized. According to Lluis Orriols (political scientist, professor at the Carlos III University in Madrid) : "A Brexit victory would mean a change of compact within the United Kingdom that might reactivate the referendum on Scottish independence, as Scotland would seek to remain in Europe. Brussels would be compelled to rule on the EU membership of a region belonging to a Member State or former Member State... It is a key issue for Catalonia which wants to make sure it could remain within Europe in case of secession from Spain."
Between the anti- and the pro-Brexit, this is indeed class warfare.
This is why the public debate is getting heated and that the anti-Brexit use fear as a strategy, as usual, without proving anything. They declare – without proving it – that leaving the EU would be a disaster for the economy, for security in these times of terrorist threats, for science, environment, real estate... Big corporations have been mobilized : Ryanair is raging against the Brexit. The airline offered "special Brexit" flights bound to Britain at EUR 19,99 on upcoming June 22 and 23, so that British nationals may come to vote to remain. According to Sky News, the Irish low-cost company is to email to more than 5 millions of its British clients. The point is to remind the British voters that they would make a serious mistake if they voted in favor of the Brexit. "As a British corporation, we are absolutely sure that the state economy and its future development will be far more important if we remain a member of the European Union, than if we leave it. A vote in favor of the remain means more job creations, a stronger economic growth, more foreign investments and – most important of all – even lower prices. We encourage all British citizens to vote for remain on June 23. Do not miss the June 7 deadline to register." In this class warfare, the PARDEM is deeply committed to side with the dominated classes, for national and people's sovereignty – the very first prerequisite to get out of the austerity and neoliberal policies driven by Bruxelles. It is resolutely in favor of a true international cooperation based on respecting nations and the peoples' mutual interest. This is the reason why the PARDEM calls British voters to open the doors of that neoliberal prison that the EU is, and to recover their sovereignty by voting in favor of the Brexit on June 23 next. We are observing very carefully what is happening on the other side of the Channel. Because one day or so, we the French will be confronted to the same choice as the British now.