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My 350 on BREXIT: The centre can no longer hold

"Being Greek, I have been feeling pessimistic about the future of the EU for some time now." 

Despina Biri
30 June 2016

In the aftermath of the historic British vote to leave the EU, openDemocracy is asking for our readers' thoughts on Brexit and what needs to happen next in 350 words. We've had an extraordinary response and you can read them all here.

The referendum has sparked what is now, one week later, a full blown political crisis in the United Kingdom. In the absence of strong leadership in the two main parties, this crisis is likely to continue for many months. I think we should not be surprised if new political alliances emerge from this, leading to the rightward shift of both Labour and the Conservatives. The centre can no longer hold. 
Unlike some fellow Greek leftists, I do not consider the Leave result to be a cause for optimism. The main reason for this is that the debate leading up to the referendum was dominated by arguments brought forward by elites. Moreover, the focus on immigration, and on the perceived need to restrict it, was not met with a left wing argument making a positive case for freedom of movement. In the immediate aftermath of the referendum, this continues to be the case, therefore I do not see how a retreat back to nation states can possibly help the cause of an internationalist progressive coalition, as historically envisaged by pan-European social movements and thinkers of the left.
As an EU citizen with strong family ties to the UK, what worries me most is the situation EU migrants to the UK are currently faced with. I am very concerned about the rise in racially motivated attacks across the UK, including in London and other big cities. I cannot help but worry about the rise of the far right, which seemingly continues unabated in the UK, too. What's more, the rise of far right groups in the UK fuel the fire elsewhere in Europe as well, most notably in France and the Netherlands.
Being Greek, I have been feeling pessimistic about the future of the EU for some time now. I am disappointed by the fact that the left has not yet come up with a case for reforming or replacing what are fundamentally technocratic, neoliberal and unaccountable European institutions, thereby contributing to the growing resentment that leads many people to cast their vote in support of exclusion, closed borders, and neoliberal elites. 

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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