BrexitChasm https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/21296/all cached version 04/07/2018 14:45:08 en What would a post-xenophobic politics look like? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/david-wearing/what-would-post-xenophobic-politics-look-like <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How do we challenge the frames which perpetuate the politics of hate?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/jocox.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/jocox.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jo Cox, fair use</span></span></span></p> <p>The day after the murder of the MP Jo Cox, her husband Brendan circulated <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/17/mainstream-politicians-clueless-on-how-to-deal-with-migration-debate-says-jo-coxs-husband">a paper</a> he had written a few weeks previously on politicians’ failure to tackle the subject of immigration. There he argued that efforts “to neuter [far right populists] by taking their ground and aping their rhetoric” had backfired. “Far from closing down the debates, these steps legitimise [their] views, reinforce their frames and pull the debate further to the extremes”. In the hours after his wife’s death, Cox released a <a href="http://www.itv.com/news/2016-06-16/unite-against-hatred-that-killed-jo-cox-says-husband/">statement</a> in which he urged us to “unite to fight against the hatred that killed her”. Let’s start thinking constructively about how we can do that. </p><h2><strong>The false frame</strong></h2> <p>The overall framing of the national debate on immigration is that it’s a problem, and that the more immigrants, the bigger the problem and the bigger the burden on society. It’s a frame, rather than just a contestable opinion, because it’s not only the political right – or, in the current EU debate, the Leave camp – that say it. Their opponents accept it as well. </p> <p>Back in 2004, the current deputy leader of the Labour party, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/jun/02/tom-watson-step-down-controversies">Tom Watson</a>, was responsible for an election leaflet that said “Labour is on your side, the Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum seekers”. Former Labour home secretary David Blunkett has said <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1949863.stm">repeatedly</a> that Britain is being “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/oct/28/david-blunkett-praises-michael-fallon-swamped-migrants">swamped</a>” by foreigners, recently <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/13/david-blunkett-romaphobia-slovak-roma">predicting</a> “an explosion” if Roma migrants don’t “change [their] culture”. The consistent stance on immigration from most of the right and centre of the parliamentary Labour party is that it can <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/29/diane-abbott-labour-immigration-controls-mugs-shameful">control</a> ‘the numbers’ better than the Conservatives. Watson has since expressed regret for his past actions, though last week he contradicted his party leadership by <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36523759">calling for tighter restrictions on immigration</a> – again, reinforcing the frames of the anti-immigrant right.</p> <p>So the first step toward a post-xenophobic politics has to be pointing out, again and again, that the ‘burdensome immigration’ frame is a false one. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/may/11/eu-migrants-had-no-negative-effect-on-uk-wages-says-lse">Recent research</a> produced by the London School of Economics (confirming <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/05/eu-migrants-uk-gains-20bn-ucl-study">earlier findings</a> from University College London) shows that recent EU migrants “pay more in taxes than they use in public services”, have not pushed down wages or reduced job opportunities, and provide a boost to the economy through their purchasing of goods and services. </p> <p>Therefore, every statement and argument made by a politician or commentator that is based on the false frame needs to be met with an immediate and direct correction. Not only is the current debate actively dangerous, but its entire basis is factually wrong. We need to say so (while also pointing out that judging human beings as economic units is slightly grotesque to begin with).&nbsp; </p><p>But this is insufficient by itself. The second stage has to be showing that concerns about jobs, housing and public services can all be addressed without irrelevant diversions into immigration policy. People deserve a tangible sense that their problems can be solved, not just to be told that they’ve been misled about the causes. </p> <h2><strong>The real ‘legitimate concerns’</strong></h2> <p>On jobs, it is our bosses, not immigrants, who cut our pay or lay us off. So government should both legislate for and properly enforce a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/reality-check/2015/jul/08/george-osborne-budget-national-living-wage">genuine</a> living wage, and encourage stronger trade unions to champion people in their work place and protect them from their employers. More fundamentally, the failed Thatcher-Blair-Cameron economic model needs to be replaced with one that produces good, skilled, secure jobs, not <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35761924">poor, unskilled, insecure ones</a>. This is no small task, requiring a highly developed <a href="openlabour.org/comment/jeremy-gilbert-interview">political</a> and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/21/jeremy-corbyn-labour-economy-re-industrialisation-digital-age">policy</a> strategy.&nbsp; </p><p>On affordable housing, a massive building programme is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/01/02/housing-market-uk_n_4531425.html">obviously</a> needed, as well as compulsory purchase orders for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/21/tens-thousands-london-homes-deemed-long-term-vacant">unoccupied properties</a>, and a crackdown on parasitical landlords. Funding public services adequately to meet the demands of a growing and ageing population can, like the housebuilding programme, be paid for through the added tax revenue and economic activity produced by immigration, as well as more progressive taxation for higher earners, and dramatic action on tax havens, evasion and avoidance. </p> <p>The real culprits, plainly, are not immigrants but tax dodgers, unscrupulous landlords, and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/07/mike-ashley-sports-direct-owner-politicians">exploitative bosses</a>. And this is the new frame: an economy rigged in favour of a privileged elite. Of course, those in the old New Labour tradition will complain that this is ‘anti-business’ and ‘anti-aspiration’. Perhaps. But this framing, unlike theirs, does at least have the redeeming feature of being both factually accurate and offering concrete solutions. </p> <p>Another right-populist frame requiring challenge is the caricatured dichotomy (again, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/17/britain-working-class-revolt-eu-referendum">parroted by the centre-left</a>) of ordinary people with their ‘legitimate concerns’ versus a pro-migration, metropolitan elite. In reality, it is elite residents of Westminster and Fleet Street, above all, who have <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/aug/08/daily-mail-express-illegal-immigrants">promoted</a> or appeased anti-immigrant politics, abrogating their responsibilities as custodians of the national conversation, colluding in the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/oct/29/todays-key-fact-you-are-probably-wrong-about-almost-everything">misleading of the public</a>, and spreading fear, hatred and division in doing so. And it is their friends, proprietors and donors in the economic elite who have been the prime beneficiaries, escaping the blame for economic exploitation and inequality in the long aftermath of the financial crash. Ordinary people, in the absence of any serious policies to materially improve their living standards, have not been well served by this misdirection.&nbsp; </p><p>And ordinary people, in any case, are a varied group. In London, where migration is at its highest, where deep poverty persists, and where the housing crisis is perhaps at its most acute, UKIP finds itself repeatedly and resoundingly rejected at the ballot box. The fact that Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency is both one of the most diverse and one of the most deprived in the capital has not stopped his less thoughtful opponents branding him as an out of touch metropolitan. Perhaps they should instead ask him how he has managed to thrive as a local MP in this environment.</p> <h2><strong>British prejudice</strong></h2> <p>Finally, we will need to confront the fact that antipathy towards immigrants is not always a proxy for legitimate economic concerns. Geographically, anti-immigrant sentiment is at its highest <a href="http://blogs.ft.com/ftdata/2014/11/19/public-attitudes-to-migration/">where the number of immigrants is lowest</a>, suggesting that prejudice and ignorance, rather than direct experience, is a significant part of the picture. This also indicates that attitudes change when immigrants become real people – friends, colleagues, family members – rather than a <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jo-cox-murdered-mp-nigel-farage-anti-immigration-brexit-poster-vile-husband-brendan-a7090151.html">dehumanised</a>, <a href="https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/02b230449f750df147b3f85fa7ce060bae0b325a/494_0_3002_1801/master/3002.jpg?w=620&amp;q=55&amp;auto=format&amp;usm=12&amp;fit=max&amp;s=57cd6e1ead459a2a4cef81ac8d41c101">inundating</a> mass.</p> <p>The disproportionately white Anglo-Saxon residents of Westminster and Fleet Street may find this hard to believe, but Britain has a rich and well established tradition of racism and xenophobia. The idea that these feelings might be <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeTwyman/status/466510114376400896/photo/1">widespread</a>, rather than marginal, is only discounted by those who have never been <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-33725217">subjected to them first hand</a>. Tackling this issue will be harder, and deserves to be the subject of a separate article. But a first step would be acknowledging its existence, and a second might be for public figures to direct their righteous indignation toward the fact of prejudice, rather than the accusation of it. </p> <h2><strong>Out of the darkness, or further in?</strong></h2> <p>When a narrative takes hold wherein the nation is threatened by a designated out-group, some form of darkness tends to follow close behind. We don’t exactly need more historical proof of this. Reflexive blaming of the out-group, painting them as the root cause <a href="http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/ten-other-things-nigel-farage-has-tried-to-blame-on-immigration--ey8RKw_kFg">of all social ills</a> is a familiar part of the script, as is their stigmatisation as a <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36479259">security</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/06/nigel-farage-must-apologise-for-sex-attack-warning">sexual</a> or <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-32176826">public health</a> threat. Thus dehumanised, the out-group becomes uniquely vulnerable to mistreatment, including <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/11/polish-people-rise-in-attacks-blame-recession-politicians-media">violence</a>, as do any of those deemed “traitors” for siding with them (in our case, the imaginary pro-migrant, metropolitan elite).</p> <p>All of this was perfectly apparent before the death – in the midst of an <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8su2vCq950">overtly xenophobic political campaign</a> - of the pro-migrant MP Jo Cox, whose accused murderer is reportedly a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/18/jo-cox-murder-suspect-thomas-mair-told-police-he-was-political-activist">committed</a> <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0ahUKEwitguHEkrbNAhUoJMAKHSggDJEQqQIIHzAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ibtimes.co.uk%2Fjo-cox-murder-suspect-tommy-mair-repeatedly-hurled-racist-abuse-asian-cab-drivers-1566105&amp;usg=AFQjCNGU0FZgnhBbEsoQmODA-GEWjM78cQ">racist</a> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/17/jo-cox-suspect-thomas-mair-bought-gun-manuals-from-us-neo-nazis-group-claims">neo-Nazi</a> who allegedly <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/jo-cox-dead-britain-first-tommy-mair-who-are-the-far-right-political-group-a7086151.html">shouted far right slogans</a> as he stabbed and shot her. It was apparent in the brutal mistreatment of the detainees in <a href="http://www.channel4.com/news/yarls-wood-immigration-removal-detention-centre-investigation">Yarl’s Wood</a>, and in the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/30/world/europe/migrants-deaths-mediterranean-libya-italy.html">repeated drownings</a> claiming hundreds of lives at the gates of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/20/mediterranean-migrant-deaths-uk-eu-mission">Fortress Europe</a>. It was apparent in the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/32316065/race-hate-attacks-have-increased-on-trains-across-britain">rising tide of racist attacks on public transport</a>, and the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/may/27/-sp-racism-on-rise-in-britain">increasing number of people in Britain prepared to admit to being racist</a> (not the same as the number who are actually racist) in recent years. </p><p> The choice before us then is clear enough. We can continue on the present course, knowing both from historical and immediate experience where this is leading. Or we can break the frame, change the narrative, and push back hard against anyone still following the script that brought us here. Britain has begun to feel like a nightmare version of itself in recent weeks. But the current trajectory isn’t inevitable. The lies can be called out, the real issues can be tackled, the hate can be beaten. Again, it’s a choice, not just for this Thursday, but for a sustained fightback in the months and years ahead. </p> <p><a href="http://bit.ly/2nrbLAW"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555700/Article_Banner_v2%402x_0.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/pall-has-fallen-across-referendum">Death and the referendum</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/fascist-terrorism">We need to talk about fascist terrorism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/aaron-winter/island-retreat-on-hate-violence-and-murder-of-jo-cox">Island retreat: on hate, violence and the murder of Jo Cox</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk BrexitChasm David Wearing Mon, 20 Jun 2016 23:00:01 +0000 David Wearing 103132 at https://www.opendemocracy.net We CAN save our NHS from TTIP without Brexit – but let's not declare premature victory https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/gail-cartmail/we-can-save-our-nhs-from-ttip-without-brexit-but-lets-not-declare-premature-vic <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Gail Cartmail of Unite the Union says their legal advice shows the EU still threatens our National Health Service – but that Cameron could fix that without the need for Brexit.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/22106558435_c2a7ae69bd_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/22106558435_c2a7ae69bd_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><em>Image:&nbsp;</em><em>Haslemere councillors from across the political spectrum, join local residents to call on local MP Jeremy Hunt to exempt the NHS from TTIP. Rights: People’s NHS</em></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Professor McKee is right to claim that there have been many surreal moments since the Prime Minister announced a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. We can now add Professor McKee himself supporting the UK Government’s position on the NHS and TTIP to this list&nbsp;</span><em>(<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/martin-mckee/nhs-is-safest-inside-eu">The NHS is safest inside the EU</a>).</em></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Unfortunately, at the time of writing TTIP does continue to pose a very real threat to our NHS. The reassurances from the European Commission that Professor McKee relies on are carefully constructed to suggest that TTIP cannot make the Government reverse health policy decisions.&nbsp;However, TTIP as it is currently conceived will allow Wall Street NHS investors to sue the Government for billions of pounds in compensation if it adopts policies that breach TTIP and there are a number of ways that this could happen.</span><span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Unite recently commissioned&nbsp;<a href="http://www.unitetheunion.org/uploaded/documents/MBTTIPAdvice20111511-25674.pdf" target="_blank"><span>advice&nbsp;</span></a>from Michael Bowsher QC, a renowned expert in this field of law – a former Chair of the EU law committee of the Bar Council and Co-Chair of the ICC Task Force on Public Procurement. In researching his opinion Mr Bowsher looked at all the reassurances from the Commission quoted by Professor McKee. More importantly, he also examined the latest EU offer to the US on Trade in Services (which was published after all these statements). He concluded that:</span><span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>“TTIP does pose a threat to a future government wishing to take back control of health services … the safest course would be for the NHS to be the subject of a specific exclusion contained within the main body of the TTIP text, or an Annex II/III reservation provided for the benefit of the UK. Without such a reservation TTIP will pose a real and serious risk to the future ability of UK Government to regulate the NHS.”</span><span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>As Professor McKee points out, Unite is campaigning to remain in EU and we do not agree with the view that to save the NHS from TTIP you have to back Brexit. David Cameron’s Government has the power to protect the NHS from the real threats posed by TTIP right now – Brexit or no Brexit. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>We believe it is important that all of us who want to protect our NHS (no matter where we stand on Europe) continue to demand that the Government exempts the NHS from this trade deal. So it is a great shame when people who really do care about the NHS declare victory prematurely because they have allowed their positions on Europe to distract them from the evidence.</span><span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>You can read the legal advice in full&nbsp;<a href="http://www.unitetheunion.org/uploaded/documents/MBTTIPAdvice20111511-25674.pdf" target="_blank"><span>here</span></a>.</span></p> <div class="category cat1"> <div> <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&amp;id=8"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555700/ilovenhs-article.jpg" alt="" width="100%" /></a> <p><strong><em>OurNHS</em></strong> has exposed sneaky moves towards charging for vital health services, withdrawing services, hospital sell-offs and the shocking failures of privatisation. <strong>We need your help.</strong> Our start-up funders can no longer support us - so we’re asking readers to step in and save OurNHS.</p> <div><strong><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&amp;id=8">Become an OurNHS supporter today and we’ll continue our fight to save the NHS</a>&nbsp;→</strong></div> </div> </div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/martin-mckee/nhs-is-safest-inside-eu">The NHS is safest inside the EU</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/david-owen/protecting-our-nhs-from-eu">Protecting our NHS from the EU</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> ourNHS Can Europe make it? uk ourNHS Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Gail Cartmail Wed, 13 Apr 2016 11:26:28 +0000 Gail Cartmail 101338 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Caught in a Brexit bromance https://www.opendemocracy.net/heather-mcrobie/caught-in-brexit-bromance <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The referendum on British membership of the EU has important implications for gender equality, but despite attempts at 'suffragette-washing' the debate, women's voices are failing to break through.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“The worst thing about the Brexit debate is that I have to see Boris Johnson’s face in the newspaper every day,” a family member joked to me last week.&nbsp; The comment evoked a wider problem in both the political and media spheres since the referendum on Britain’s future relationship with the EU was announced earlier this year. As </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="https://www.the-pool.com/news-views/politics/2016/10/rachel-shabi-on-women-and-the-brexit">Rachel Shabi</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> and </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/josiah-mortimer/women-and-young-are-left-in-dark-by-eu-referendum-debate">Josiah Mortimer</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> have recently pointed out, the Brexit debate has been significantly male-dominated, from the framing of the debate as a ‘Cameron vs Johnson’ clash (pick which former Etonian white man will decide your future) to the disproportionately ‘pale and male’ nature of much media commentary on the issue, which has replicated in microcosm the </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/dawn-foster/women-in-journalism-not-trivial-subject">widely-documented</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> imbalances of representation in the British media.</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">This is not only a ‘politics of representation’ issue, but impacts on a wider gender divide that manifests amongst would-be voters as a whole. Josiah Mortimer of the Electoral Reform Society </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/josiah-mortimer/women-and-young-are-left-in-dark-by-eu-referendum-debate">recently pointed to</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> the striking gender gap in BMG polling on how well-informed British people feel about the referendum. The figures are pretty paltry across the board, with only 12 per cent of the public claiming they feel ‘well-informed’ and only four per cent ‘very well informed’. Mortimer highlights that the gender gap within this is a cause for alarm: men are twice as likely to feel well-informed compared to women (at 21 per cent versus 10 per cent of women), and argues that this “suggests the campaigns – and the media coverage of those campaigns – aren’t reaching out of the Westminster bubble or targetting groups outside of middle-aged to elderly men”.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>This gender imbalance is part of a wider chasm in levels of engagement with the Brexit debate – the older and richer you are, the more well-informed you are likely to feel – indicating a wider alienation of more marginalised groups from the whole debate. This will almost certainly affect the outcome of the referendum itself, as the more well-informed a person perceives themselves to be, the more likely they are to vote.</p> <h3><strong>Suffragette-washing the Brexit debate</strong></h3> <p>It’s pretty clear that the whole issue of Brexit has a gender imbalance problem.&nbsp; The Stay and Leave campaigns have both caught on to this criticism in recent weeks, and have warped the situation further by drawing upon the discourse of ‘encouraging women’ to participate – but, of course, primarily to the end of promoting either the Stay or Leave campaigns.&nbsp; Women are thus both sidelined and instrumentalised in the Brexit debate, with the ‘gender sensitive’ statements from each campaign on International Women’s Day last month ringing hollow in the wider climate of a referendum campaign that has neglected gender issues.&nbsp;</p><iframe width="450" height="240" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/sHvztq8eq2c" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>As Rachel Shabi recently <a href="https://www.the-pool.com/news-views/politics/2016/10/rachel-shabi-on-women-and-the-brexit">described</a>, employment minister Priti Patel’s evocation of the suffragettes in encouraging British women to vote to leave the EU was, at best, a tone-deaf note to strike on International Women’s Day. No mention was made of the fact that it is only through EU law that the UK has important feminist-orientated provisions like parental leave.&nbsp; There is nothing in the Leave campaign that is actually for gender equality, or women <em>qua</em> women – apparently the best that ‘Women for Britain’ can come up with is the idea that voting to leave will somehow empower women as citizens, because it will win back some kind of ‘national sovereignty’. The wider tone of the Leave campaign – and Boris Johnson’s blending of <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-02/brexit-from-eu-would-be-disastrous-and-fuelled-by/7133418">xenophobia</a> and fetishisation of the free market – will never be an ideological climate in which gender equality or human dignity can flourish.</p> <p>The Stay campaign is faring little better.&nbsp; Like the Leave campaign, it launched a women’s group on International Women’s Day (‘Women In’, a counterpart to the Leave campaign’s ‘Women for Britain’), but its statement that staying in the EU “outweighed the costs” for women was hardly a convincing endorsement.&nbsp; The obvious argument that has been made is that the EU has at least provided <em>some</em> legal tools and institutional mechanisms to protect and promote gender equality, sorely needed at a time when the current UK government is committed to cutting rights across the board and entrenching inequalities. Engaging with this argument would mean weighing up whether those tools and mechanisms would be threatened by a Leave vote, or whether they might be kept or improved upon. This in turn means acknowledging that a vote to remain in Europe is not an endorsement of the EU itself, less still an endorsement of Cameron’s own conservative and neoliberal reasoning for why Britain should stay.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/june_sarpong_eu_re_3476475b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/june_sarpong_eu_re_3476475b.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="287" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>June Sarpong supporting 'Britain Stronger in Europe'. Image: Britain Stronger In Europe</span></span></span></p><p>Like the recent commentary in the American Presidential primary elections over ‘<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/here-comes-the-berniebro-bernie-sanders/411070/">Bernie bros’</a> versus the <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/05/why-millennial-feminists-don-t-like-hillary.html">‘1% feminism’</a> of Hillary Clinton, the Brexit debate has combined neglect for women’s voices and concerns with opportunistic attempts to use the language of gender equality to score points over the opposite ‘side’. It’s hard to see this as little more than the gender equivalent of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/23/opinion/pinkwashing-and-israels-use-of-gays-as-a-messaging-tool.html?_r=0">pinkwashing</a>, with little genuine concern for gender equality, or for women’s realities and potential fates beyond scoring some votes.</p><h3>The Women's Equality Party</h3> <p>The Brexit referendum is coming a year after Britain’s own political landscape has been rearranged, not so much by the 2015 election of a Tory majority as by the aftermath of the Scottish referendum campaigns and the rise of Corbyn as the leader of Labour.&nbsp; The old rules on which voices, and which parties, deserve to be heard, and for how long, are under strain.</p> <p>Last year also saw the emergence of the Women’s Equality Party, created in part, in the words of the party’s leader Sophie Walker, to “amplify the voices of women in Britain.” Since its launch last year the Women’s Equality Party has been rightly criticised for its own blind spots and false binaries, not least for its failure <a href="http://feimineach.com/2015/five-reasons-i-wont-be-joining-the-womens-equality-party/">to critique austerity policies</a> from a gendered perspective and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/tilly-grove/womens-equality-party_b_7221642.html">insufficiently intersectional</a> approach to social marginalisation and gendered poverty.&nbsp;&nbsp; But at least the party isn’t instrumentalising women in the Brexit debate, and as such its call, on International Women’s Day, to use the referendum as an “opportunity to build a vision for a more gender equal society” is a striking contrast to the posturing of the Leave and Stay campaigns.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/WEP.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/WEP.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="287" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Promotion for the launch of the WEP. Credit: WEP</span></span></span></p><p>Party leader <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2016/03/why-women-need-british-bill-rights">Walker argued</a> that, if the UK decides to adopt a British Bill of Rights and leave the EU, there will be an urgent need to ensure that “equalities guaranteed by Europe are not rolled back”, itself an implicit argument that gender equality is better protected under the EU than under Johnson’s vision of Britain. But any support for the Stay campaign must not lose sight of the myriad ways in which the EU is an active agent in perpetuating inequalities and injustices, including gender. As the Women’s Equality Party pointed out, the EU “does little to address women’s disproportionate risk of poverty and inequality in much of the European continent – including the rights of migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee women.”</p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Women’s Equality Party has largely been treated as a novelty by the British media, focusing on its celebrity founding members and supporters, and there has been little critical engagement with the fact that the party that claims to represent gender equality does not challenge austerity and other structural factors that contribute to women’s continued disproportionate poverty and marginalisation, or how this marginalisation intersects with other structural inequalities.&nbsp; The main argument in defence of the WEP is that it placed gender equality on the political agenda in a manner akin to the Green Party’s longstanding role in making environmental issues an integral component political landscape.&nbsp; There was thus an opportunity for the British media, particularly public service broadcasters, to use the (somewhat surprising, even in the politically surprising 2015) rise of the WEP to address and assess the commitment of the main political parties on gender equality.&nbsp; Yet this opportunity was largely passed over in favour of ‘personality politics’ coverage of the Labour party leadership election, and then by coverage of Brexit that has foregrounded the voices of men.&nbsp;&nbsp; The demands of the WEP – as limited as they are by their lack of critical engagement with inequality and its causes – could also have been taken as an opportunity for the BBC and other British media to assess the role they play in contributing to the continued elevation of male voices over female voices in British political life.</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Brexit would have profound implications in all of our lives – and will have specific implications for issues of gender equality.&nbsp; Yet the debate over Brexit is being dominated by male voices, with ‘gender equality’ only ever disingenuously instrumentalised by each side to win points.&nbsp; It is on the media to make the Brexit debate itself more representative of all those who will be affected by the outcome of the referendum, rather than the pale, male figures with strikingly similar ideological positions who have dominated the discussion to date.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/women-in-journalism-not-trivial-subject">Women in journalism: not a trivial subject</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/still-our-man-in-havana-foreign-policy-reportings-elitism-problem">Still &#039;Our Man in Havana&#039;: foreign policy reporting&#039;s elitism problem</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/gender-based-censorship">Gender-based censorship </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> OurBeeb 50.50 OurBeeb uk BrexitChasm Brexit2016 Brexit and the BBC Governance and Representation 50.50 Voices for Change Heather McRobie Tue, 05 Apr 2016 11:36:55 +0000 Heather McRobie 101134 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The high stakes of the EU referendum https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/uta-staiger/high-stakes-of-eu-referendum <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Four weeks ago we launched the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions">Brexit Divisions</a> project to explore the strategies and stakes of the upcoming EU referendum. Looking back, this is what we’ve learned.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/9534751191_45fa2a29f0_k920.jpg" width="100%" /></p> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top: 0px; padding-top: 0px;">A spectator at the tug-of-war competition put on by the Great Britain Club of Minden, Germany in 2013. Oliver Hallmann/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by)</p> <p>There’s a referendum coming.</p> <p>And as the director of British Future Sunder Katwala has pointed out, it may still be quite a good referendum, too. One that encourages democratic engagement. One that may increase people’s knowledge and understanding of Britain’s place in the EU. One that will pitch arguments against each other and let them battle it out in public to settle a thorny issue decidedly.</p> <p>But it is not yet. </p><p> <iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/159780846?title=0&amp;byline=0" frameborder="0" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top: 0px; padding-top: 0px;">Sundar Katwala, director of British Future</p> <p>Intriguingly, in a country where the EU has always been the object of both profound detestation and (somewhat less profound) embrace – not to mention the darling subject of outraged tabloid covers – Brexit leaves significant swathes of the population relatively indifferent. A mere 27% think it is one of the most important issues facing this country at present (<a href="https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/81ewaf2bx0/YG%20Trackers-Issues%202-Most-Important-Issues-070115_W.pdf">YouGov</a>). A staggering 68 polls between September 2015 and March 2016 have shown there is <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/sofia-vasilopoulou/eu-freedom-of-movement-and-brexit">no clear winning camp</a>. And up to a fifth of the population is still undecided. </p> <p>If there is one thing that most worries observers, then, it is a short winning margin delivered by a low voter turn out. Unsatisfyingly, problematically, it would be akin to “a not proven verdict from a hung jury”, to quote Katwala again.</p> <p>So what does engage and mobilise voters? How and when can referendum campaigns shift public opinion? Which stories, narratives, facts and fictions shape the way people make sense of EU membership – and thus the&nbsp;choice at hand? </p> <h2>What will shape the referendum campaigns? Key ideas</h2> <p>In our first guest edited week with openDemocracy and at a <a href="https://www.ucl.ac.uk/european-institute/events/2015-16/brexit-divisions">related public event</a> on Brexit Divisions, we – staff at the <a href="http://www.ucl.ac.uk/european-institute">UCL European Institute</a> and a number of expert commentators – wanted not only to raise awareness of how pivotal this drawn-out contest will be. We also wanted to offer critical analysis of it by drawing on some of the sharpest minds on both sides of the debate.</p> <p>Perhaps not surprisingly, despite the wide range areas of expertise the project gathered, a number of key points have emerged as particularly salient. First among them is the extent to which the emotions will be key in this referendum – a not uncontroversial issue, and one with significant implications for political decision-making <i>tout court</i>. Secondly, just as other EU referendums have been elsewhere, this referendum will be much more about Britain, its identity politics, sovereignty, and current political landscape than about its relationship with the European Union. Thirdly, the campaign will hinge on questions of trust: do citizens still trust their leaders, do they feel represented by them, or will we see an anti-establishment mood carrying the day?</p> <p>Interestingly, all of these three points relegate evidence, facts, and actualities to a second order. Political opinion-formation and decision-making in popular referenda, they suggest, are not just or perhaps not even primarily about the actual issues at stake. Rather, what will make all the difference is how the campaigns can influence voters’ perceptions of these issues. In other words, how they manage to present or “frame” the question at hand. As our co-editor <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan/puzzle-of-eu-referendums">Ece Özlem Atikcan</a> explains, framing occurs when, in describing an issue, the speaker emphasises a subset of (only potentially relevant) considerations – with individuals then focusing on these considerations rather than the actual question at hand when making up their minds. The relevance of this may not hit home immediately, but the consequences are all but insignificant. </p> <p>Let’s take the three key points in turn.</p> <h2>Emotions and politics</h2> <p>It is no longer radical to say this, but in defiance of virtually the entire history of western political thought, in which emotions were assumed to be irreconcilable with good decision-making and good government, feelings have unabashedly taken centre stage in contemporary politics. Of course, on an abstract level at least, we still tend to assume that any deliberative process should rest on even-handedness, careful consideration, and reasoned discussion. We still fear, as did Aristotle, that the “wild beast” of unconstrained emotion would distort “the rule even of the best men” – that it would give unfairness, uncertainty, and prejudice free reign. And who would wish to be at the receiving end of those?</p> <p>However, the emotions are enjoying something of a renaissance in our political lives these days. They tend do so in three ways, all of which have particular resonance with regard to the Brexit campaigns. </p> <p>First, and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/andrew-glencross/who-speaks-for-europe-uk-referendum-as-pan-european-affair">Laura Cram</a>’s piece serves us a potent reminder of this, it is virtually impossible to create a sense of societal belonging – national or otherwise – without the intervention of empathy, of “entering into the sentiments of others”, as David Hume once put it. Yet if this is already a tall order in an increasingly heterogeneous national society, it is even more so in a multi-level, multi-national union such as the EU. As even the staunch pro-European Jacques Delors recognised drily, people do not tend to fall in love with a common market. Indeed, foreign secretary James Callaghan, overseeing the renegotiation of Britain’s terms of membership in 1974-75, specifically defined the EEC as a mere “business arrangement”, as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/andrew-glencross/who-speaks-for-europe-uk-referendum-as-pan-european-affair">Andrew Glencross</a> reminds us. It is perhaps the aspiration to go beyond this that enrages the Leave campaign more than anything else. In any case, Callaghan’s is a sentiment that continues to resonate with voters today, as a tweet we received in response to Laura Cram’s piece made very clear. When it comes to Europe, Britons do business, not empathy:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/UCL_EI">@UCL_EI</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/neuropols">@neuropols</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/openDemocracy">@openDemocracy</a> Britons don't have an emotional attachment to the EU. Business is business.</p>— Sue Jameson (@English_Woman) <a href="https://twitter.com/English_Woman/status/707555193534226432">March 9, 2016</a></blockquote> <script charset="utf-8"></script> <p>And yet, secondly, emotional resources are also intimately bound up in decision-making of any kind, political judgements included. From cognitive neuroscience to social psychology, research suggests that sentiments such as desires or fears decisively shape the choices we make. Emotions are particular modes of thoughts, rather than the opposite of thought. The really important question is thus to what extent and under which conditions they may contribute to making just decisions. This is particularly prevalent in the “opinion-based democracies” we live in, as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/pierre-kanuty/brexit-from-french-perspective">Pierre Kanuty</a> puts it. It is in this sense, and in no contradiction to the above, that <a href="http://time.com/4230780/britain-europe-brexit-david-cameron/">Dan Stewart</a> recently argued in <i>The Times</i> that “European membership is chiefly an emotive and not an intellectual argument.”</p> <p>This, thirdly, plays directly into the question of mobilisation. In campaigns, emotions will trump facts. In order to reach, engage, persuade voters, campaigns need to employ emotive arguments. Not all of course! For the Remainers in particular, as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/roland-rudd/winning-argument-for-staying-in-europe">Roland Rudd</a> insists, “rose-coloured glasses” will not do. For that, the EU’s firmest bid for legitimacy in the public eye – the relevance and quality of its performance, or ‘output legitimacy’, as political scientists have it – is simply not in the best place right now. Nor are ‘love letters’ from Europeans likely to do them any good, as our public debaters rather firmly established (the only exception being <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/pierre-kanuty/brexit-from-french-perspective">Kalypso Nicolaïdis</a>’ open letter in these pages, which is such an irreverently wonderful read that it has become the most widely shared of all our contributions). &nbsp;</p> <p>What is important however is that the facts are delivered with conviction, vision, emotion – thus the recommendation from former Dutch politician and campaigner <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/thijs-berman/toward-citizens-europe">Thijs Berman</a>. You simply do not counter anger and frustration effectively by citing a treaty article, no matter how relevant. Instead, powerful language, symbols and optics are what is needed. Former special advisor Ayesha Hazarika concurs, and incisively suggests this is precisely what the Remain campaign most struggles with. </p><p> <iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/159784883?title=0&amp;byline=0" frameborder="0" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top: 0px; padding-top: 0px;">Ayesha Hazarika, former special adviser to Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband.</p> <p>What is the emotive punch line, the positive case, that could enliven its rational and intellectual argument, make it raw, drive it home? Remain needs to make a case that “speaks to Britain’s heart, as well as to its brains”, to quote Dan Stewart again – uncannily echoing Ed Milliband’s <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scottish-independence/11088424/Miliband-makes-head-heart-and-soul-appeal-to-Scotland.html">head, heart and soul appeal</a> to Scottish voters in that other referendum not too long ago (more on which <a href="https://www.ucl.ac.uk/european-institute/highlights/2014-15/passions/">here</a>). And it needs to make it clear and concise, in terms that are neither too abstract nor too complex, as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan/puzzle-of-eu-referendums">Ece Özlem Atikcan</a> and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/charlotte-antonsen/you-never-know-with-referendums-view-from-denmark">Charlotte Anderson</a> revealed with reference to previous referenda. In contrast, the Out campaign, which is passionately, fiercely convinced, cannot win on passion alone. It needs to draw up a reasonable scenario of what Out would look like. It also, one should add, needs another act of empathy: to convince, the most passionate campaigners need to understand the mindset of the as yet unconvinced.</p><p> <iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/159782185?title=0&amp;byline=0" frameborder="0" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top: 0px; padding-top: 0px;">Mark Wallace, executive editor of ConservativeHome and founder of the Better Off Out campaign.</p> <p>In this sense, the oft-maligned ‘project fear’ does of course work. It works by conjuring up a powerful emotion that will cause a gut reaction at the moment of decision-making. The uncertainty of what ‘out’ looks like is, after all, Out’s weakest spot. And it does not get better by denial. As both sides recognise, the very public debunking of the other campaign’s ‘facts’ – or uses thereof – can have an unwanted and unintended side effect. Effectively, it shows that one side effectively buys into the other’s ‘frame’. Aiming to debunk ‘Project Fear’ might thus still be a poisoned chalice for Leave. Is it this that has led VoteLeave’s Chief Executive <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave">Matthew Elliot</a> to claim, in these very pages, that StrongerIn was not prepared to have a “reasoned debate”? Be this as it may, as Sunder Katwala augurs, banking all on fear will likely not be enough for a decisive win to remain. </p> <h2>An insular debate</h2> <p>We have also heard from campaigners involved in other EU referendums, and these comparative examples seem to confirm that referendum campaigns are rarely exclusively about the actual issue. They are always bound up in the domestic context, influenced by secondary concerns including policy preferences, social anxieties, external events, party politics or charismatic leadership. As our debate has brought home time and again, the UK’s referendum on EU membership is not just about the country’s relationship to the European Union. Rather, as Sunder Katwala put it in the debate (and in his British Future <a href="http://www.britishfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/EU-report.-British-Future.Embargo-6.1.16.pdf">pamphlet</a>), the referendum may be much more closely about Britain: about British identity, about Britons’ vision for the future, and the country’s desired place in the world. In that sense it is a literally an <i>insular</i> debate, one that is predicated – as indeed the Scottish referendum was – on a deep-rooted and historically grounded sense of national exceptionalism (<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/andrew-glencross/who-speaks-for-europe-uk-referendum-as-pan-european-affairhttps://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/andrew-glencross/who-speaks-for-europe-uk-referendum-as-pan-european-affair">Andrew Glencross</a> concurs). </p> <p>In other words, to counter Leave’s patriotic case for walking out, Remain needs to make a patriotic case for staying (<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/roland-rudd/winning-argument-for-staying-in-europe">Rudd</a>). This of course is the downside of ‘project fear’. All too easily, In may be seen to belittle Britain’s capacity and license to go it alone, to play (one might add, somewhat impertinently) with the big boys. As <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/renaud-thillaye/three-reality-checks-for-leavers-and-remainers">Renaud Thillaye</a> hints, this is effectively Michael Gove’s line: that Brexit would reclaim a British identity that is more acutely marked by its exceptional history of independence, exploration and exploits (including, <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/02/michael-gove-why-im-backing-eu-withdrawal">Gove thinks</a>, the successful export of self-democratic government, prosperity and peace to nations such as India). And more: it is a narrative that seamlessly links popular sovereignty – “radicals and liberals who took power from unaccountable elites and placed them in the hands of the people”, in Gove’s own words – with parliamentary sovereignty and national freedom. </p> <p>This of course is becoming a core territory of the referendum battle. The French ‘non’ campaign to the constitutional treaty successfully played on an undertone of citizens once again becoming masters of their own destiny (<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/pierre-kanuty/brexit-from-french-perspective">Kanuty</a>). Similarly, the Leave campaign is all about re-taking control from Brussels, returning law-making capacity to the British people (rather: parliament) and holding the law-makers to account <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave">according to</a> the chief of Vote Leave Matthew Elliot. It claims nothing less than the reinvention of national democratic sovereignty: of making Britain great again.</p> <p>The spanner in these works of course is the Celtic fringe argument, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/joe-costello/selling-referendums-in-ireland">astutely pointed out</a> by former Irish MP Joe Costello. This describes the possibility that an overall vote for Brexit, which would overturn “Bremain” majorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, could trigger a second Scottish referendum, eventually leading to the break-up of the UK. Given the enormity of the irony this would represent – the potential extrication from two unions at the same time – it remains one of the campaigns’ most fiercely disputed arguments.</p> <p>A final consideration is the influence of the domestic political constellations of the day, contingent as they may be. With a Conservative party so deeply divided that the contest sometimes resembles a leadership contest, not to mention two rival and publicly opposed Out campaigns, the fact that the Labour party stands relatively united behind the Remain case could make it an extremely important player in the debate. Indeed, it could even make Jeremy Corbyn, its highly controversial new leader, more of a pull or push factor in this than Boris Johnson – a fact the speakers at our public debate rather relished. Being however only a recent, and at this time rather expedient convert to the cause, Corbyn’s lack of personal commitment and the party’s lack of campaign engagement in the more deprived regions of England, fails to breathe life into ‘In’. Add to this the hesitation arising out of Labour’s disastrous experience of campaigning with the government in the Scottish referendum, and we have yet another key factor likely to shape Britain’s most existential vote in generations, which has nothing at all to do with the referendum question at hand.</p> <h2>Trust and representation</h2> <p>On a party political note, then, the final question marking our Brexit debates in these pages and out in the public lecture theatre is the following: to what extent do voters trust and feel represented by those leading the campaigns that are to shape their votes?</p> <p>Trust is an overburdened term. Some have suggested that trust is key to the secular and political organisation of Europe’s modern societies – not least John Locke, who was the first to define the relationship between (a restricted group of) citizens and their representatives in parliament as a “government of trust”. But today’s democratic institutions are rather marked by ever greater delegations of trust; its reversibility (at the next elections, say); or even by mistrust – represented not only by the vote of confidence, but by an ever growing popular distrust of the political class. </p> <p>As <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/pierre-kanuty/brexit-from-french-perspective">Pierre Kanuty describes for France</a>, the referendum debate plays on an imagined divide of “elite vs. the people”. Tapping into pre-existing disaffection, the chief executive of Vote Leave indeed <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave">accuses the “the establishment”</a> of effectively trying “to drown out those fighting for the best interests of ordinary British people”. This does not need to correspond to actuality: the Eton and Oxford educated Mayor of London, after all, can hardly be called anti-establishment. Yet while people’s instinctive distrust of the elite could be expected to give an exclusively political leadership of the campaign the “kiss of death”, as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/joe-costello/selling-referendums-in-ireland">Joe Costello</a> put it, boldness and charisma may just carry the day. Returning to the image of the radical and liberal citizen throwing off the shackles of unjust authority, even cabinet minister Michael Gove managed to breathe an air of anti-systemic excitement into his decision to campaign for Leave. </p> <p>And yet, both campaigns worry about trust in the messenger. Most campaigners are university educated, most voters are not. To expand on Ayesha Hazarika’s point, both sides need less men in suits boring people with bean-counting business statistics. But this is not where the representational risks end. Polls suggest time and again that the younger the voter, the higher their preference for Remain. And it is of course the younger generations that have to live with the consequences of a potential Brexit. This has led some to call for a youth-led, ‘call a granny’ campaign, and others to suggest that over 65s, rather than 16 and 17-year olds, should be barred from voting. </p> <p>What remains the case is that, while the subject is incredibly complex and the decision far-reaching, it remains a challenge to both campaigns to counter voter disengagement. Anger against the political establishment cannot mask uncertainty about an overly complex world, to which some specialist guidance remains a necessity, as <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/thijs-berman/toward-citizens-europe">Thijs Berman noted</a>. The two points of most concern to voters – immigration and the economy – are heavily contested between both sides. The messages employed on either side do not as yet seem to sway the undecided – indisputably the core constituency of the campaigns – one way or another. </p> <h2>An inconclusive conclusion</h2> <p>There is a referendum coming. While likely called because of political expediency and accident, rather than vision, and while possibly a major political gamble, it could just end up being an opportunity for a healthy public debate and democratic engagement with an issue that has haunted British politics for decades. Right now, however, what prevails is a major sense of uncertainty. All polls suggest that this will be touch-and-go, that a decision with enormous consequences might effectively be won on a whim.</p> <p>If there is anything we take away from this project then it is that more debate is in order, much more. A debate that is able to tackle the thorny, intricate, unwieldy questions that both sides need to answer if voters are to make up their minds. We haven’t seen that yet. Indeed, at our event the two Chief Executives of VoteLeave and StrongerIn were both meant to be key speakers. Both pulled out less than 24 hours before, citing the sensitivity of the subject. Let us hope they, and the campaigns they lead, will be braver next time.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-anoth-sidebox"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Brexit-banner-final-140px%40x2.png" width="100%" alt="Brexit Divisions small banner" /></a> <div style="font-size:85%"> <!--MONDAY--> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/stephen-booth/there-s-no-love-for-eu-or-immigration-but-voters-must-ask-what-are-alt">There’s no love for the EU or immigration, but voters must ask ‘what are the alternatives?’</a><br />STEPHEN BOOTH <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/hugo-dixon/britain-benefits-from-free-movement">Britain benefits from free movement</a> HUGO DIXON <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ian-preston/confident-uk-has-nothing-to-fear-from-free-movement-of-labour">A confident UK has nothing to fear from free movement of labour</a> IAN PRESTON <!--Tuesday--> <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/damian-green/migration-border-security-and-eu-referendum">Migration, border security and the EU referendum</a> DAMIAN GREEN <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/steve-ballinger/who-will-offer-winning-vision-of-immigration-after-referendum">Who will offer a winning vision of immigration after the referendum?</a> STEVE BALLINGER <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/steven-woolfe/migration-it-s-why-british-people-will-vote-for-brexit">Migration: it’s why the British people will vote for Brexit</a> STEVEN WOOLFE <!--Wednesday--> <hr /> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/anne-white/unsettling-times-for-settled-population-polish-perspectives-on-brexit">Unsettling times for a settled population? Polish perspectives on Brexit</a> ANNE WHITE</p> <hr /> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/catherine-barnard-amy-ludlow/honeypot-britain-do-eu-nationals-come-to-uk-for-benefit">Honeypot Britain: do EU nationals come to the UK for benefits?</a> AMY LUDLOW<br />CATHERINE BARNARD </p> <!--Thursday--> <hr /> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/eva-hoffman/some-thoughts-on-psycho-geography-of-europe-s-free-movement">Some thoughts on the psycho-geography of Europe’s free movement</a> EVA HOFFMAN</p> <hr /> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/rita-hord-sy-matt-wood/how-soft-security-matters-in-referendum-debate">How soft security matters in the referendum debate</a><br />RITA HORDÓSY<br />MATT WOOD</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BrexitDivisions Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Uta Staiger Mon, 04 Apr 2016 07:30:00 +0000 Uta Staiger 101084 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Transformative democracy: bringing the outside world in https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/julie-ward/transformative-democracy-bringing-outside-world-in <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is there hope for a new politics in European institutions? One insider-outsider says yes.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="BodyA"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/JulieWard3.jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p><p class="image-caption">Performance of “Make do and Mend,” November 25 2015. Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/socsanddems/">Flickr/the S and D group at the European Parliament</a>. All rights reserved.</p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">In November 2015, a middle aged woman called Ann from a social housing project in a poor part of Greater Manchester sat in a meeting room in the </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/portal/en">European Parliament</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">, watching a play about domestic violence based on the testimonies of victims just like her. She was one of 45 people from </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://www.juliewardmep.eu/">my constituency</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> of North West England who had been invited to the Parliament for a day of activities designed to raise awareness of </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/gender-violence/index_en.htm">Violence Against Women and Girls,</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> and to share ideas about how to deal with its causes and consequences.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Sitting opposite her were the Spanish chair of the Parliament’s Gender Equality Committee, a member of the Luxembourgish parliament, a former Education Minister from Belgium, representatives from the European Commission, and me. The play, called “</span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://thewomensvoicesproject.com/make-do-and-mend-2016/">Make Do and Mend</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">,” was performed by three women from the north of England speaking in their local accents. At one point in the performance one of the characters offered her knitting needles to the MP from Luxembourg who proceeded to knit several rows, an act that did much to set the tone for the discussions that followed.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Throughout the play the atmosphere was electric and edgy, but also welcoming and safe. Somehow we managed to create a space in a parliamentary environment that encouraged a meeting of minds among an unlikely group of people, held together by the threads of shared, real life stories. Afterwards, members of the audience commented on the play and the issues it raised by asking questions, suggesting answers, and challenging the politicians with their concerns. As I left the room Ann stopped me and said, “I've never been to a conference before, but now I will go to lots more.” I like to think that this is a small example of ‘transformative politics’ in action—and we urgently need much more of this kind of engagement between the European Union and its citizens.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">At a watershed moment when Britain is faced with a referendum on EU membership, it’s crucial to illustrate that Europe can be a political platform that empowers its citizens rather than alienating them. Indeed, all our political institutions must be made relevant by reforming them to make citizens feel truly included, and able to participate. Through my work as a cultural activist as well as an MEP I’ve experienced how European networks can bring like-minded people together across the continent for cooperation and common cause. This could be the beginning of a new story for Europe, and I want to be part of it.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">It’s always interesting to throw one's hat into the ring not expecting to be elected, but wanting at least to challenge the system, both in terms of traditional party politics and the wider political landscape. Prior to my election to the European Parliament in 2014 I had no track record as a politician, and politics was not part of my career plan. This gave me enormous freedom to communicate on a different level when I started to campaign. My background was in community theatre, which equipped me with a range of human-scale communication tools and direct experience of using empowering participatory processes with marginalised communities.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">From the outset I wanted to bring my old world into my new one by opening up the European Parliament and its processes to a range of people from different walks of life, especially those for whom politics seemed irrelevant. Being as accessible as possible, using social media to communicate, sharing my own journey of discovery in an open way and developing relationships with grassroots campaigners are all central to my work.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Strange as it may seem, there’s no written job description for MEPs which is both scary and liberating. To some degree I’ve been able to make things up as I go along, trying to find ways of bringing something new to the table like theatre, policy-making workshops run by young people, giving student volunteers resources so that they can work on self-directed projects, and submitting my office to regular scrutiny by a youth group called </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://www.investinginchildren.net/">Investing in Children</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Other MEPs are pursuing similar ways of working like Belgian Socialist Democrat </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/meps/arena-marie">Maria </a><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/meps/arena-marie">Arena</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">, who organised a group of pregnant women and their children to attend the women’s rights committee meeting en masse when contested </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://www.womenlobby.org/Resolution-adopted-the-FEMM-Committee-urges-the-Council-to-resume-the">maternity leave legislation was being </a><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://www.womenlobby.org/Resolution-adopted-the-FEMM-Committee-urges-the-Council-to-resume-the">debated</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">. Their presence highlighted the human impact of the Parliament’s decisions, causing embarrassment to members in the process. The mums were not drawn from radical left wing campaigning groups but from a much wider demographic.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Many might not normally be interested in politics, but they wanted to join in with this action because it was relevant to their lives and it was audacious and disruptive, serving to remind political elites that not everything is a done deal behind closed doors. Gender equality is clearly an area where transformative politics can take root and grow, as ideas, energy, creativity and commitment move to and fro between the establishment and the fringes of society.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">For too long politics has been something that is done </span><em>to</em><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> us or </span><em>without</em><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> us—a mysterious world that’s far removed from reality. It uses a language that people don't understand and is carried out in places that seem inaccessible. Politicians are viewed through the lens of the media which perpetuates a vision of the ‘chattering classes'—policy wonks and geeks talking to each other while everyone else is excluded. Yet democratic processes that truly engage with the electorate can and should be expanded. &nbsp;</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/">Peoples Assembly Against Austerity</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">, for example, was born in the UK after the 2010 election, and has grown from local meetings in back rooms to a mass movement that can mobilise tens of thousands of people to demonstrate against public service cuts. Alongside direct action, local assemblies run workshops on creative campaigning and organise comedy nights, concerts and film screenings as ways of enlivening politics.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Or take </span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://thecompletefreedomoftruth.com/">The Complete Freedom of Truth</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> (TCFT), launched by British activist Tina Ellen Lee to work with young creatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I spent 12 days volunteering with them in Srebrenica in 2015, helping to promote the use of public spaces for political discussions. “Democracy is freedom in a framework, powered by people working together for each other with equality, kindness, respect and responsibility.” This was their mantra. The challenge for young people in Bosnia-Herzegovina is not engagement but how to enact their vision for political change in a country that’s still riven by ethnic tensions. So when a European Parliamentary delegation visited Sarajevo in November 2015 I insisted that TCFT and other civil society organizations were invited to observe the proceedings.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Real politics really is about everyday life, or at least it’s the process by which we can develop trust and accountability with those who govern the institutions that structure so much of our lives and allocate resources. But when public engagement in politics declines, these processes become moribund, paving the way for even more control by vested interests.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">When people don't vote because they think politicians are all the same, or are only in it for themselves, or because they believe their vote won’t make a difference, the chasm between the electorate and the elected grows even wider. Building bridges across this divide has become an obsession for me, especially since I was someone who was once on the other side—disaffected, dismayed and disappointed. But I was also angry, and it was my sense of outrage about social injustice that prompted me to step into the political arena.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Like any other form of deep social change, transformative politics is something that people must own and shape. It requires a constant challenging of the status quo, energetic engagement (especially with those on the margins of society), the ability to listen as much as speak, and a change in power structures so that they are not captured by elites. While politics remains the preserve of the moneyed classes and dominated by old white men, little progress will be made.</span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span style="line-height: 1.5;">On the other hand if we could transform the environment by inviting in new voices and upending the very processes of politics, even the European Parliament might help to grow a generation of active citizens who could be the agents of change that Europe so desperately requires.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; text-align: justify; line-height: normal;"><span class="image-caption"><b><i>Transformation</i> depends entirely on contributions from individuals and foundations. If you like what you’re reading, please help us by donating whatever amount you can:</b></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; text-align: justify; line-height: normal;"><span class="image-caption"><b><br /></b></span></p><form action="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr" method="post"><b><input name="cmd" value="_s-xclick" type="hidden" /><input name="hosted_button_id" value="7LUF2689H5HAU" type="hidden" /><input alt="PayPal – The safer, easier way to pay online." name="submit" src="https://www.paypalobjects.com/en_US/GB/i/btn/btn_donateCC_LG.gif" type="image" /><img src="https://www.paypalobjects.com/en_GB/i/scr/pixel.gif" border="0" height="1" width="1" /></b></form><p><span style="font-family: &amp;amp;amp;">&nbsp;</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/sian-berry/why-we-need-young-people-to-create-new-kind-of-politics">Why we need young people to create the new politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/joel-lazarus/beyond-electoral-scapegoating-now-is-time-to-love-learn-and-listen">Beyond electoral scapegoating: now is the time to love, learn and listen</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/dermot-feenan-daniel-bedford/should-compassion-be-election-issue">Should compassion be an election issue?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Transformation Transformation BrexitChasm EU Reinventing democracy in Europe Julie Ward Trans-partisan politics Activism Wed, 30 Mar 2016 00:00:00 +0000 Julie Ward 100977 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The making of an open and democratic Europe: reading Brexit through E.P. Thompson https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/martin-shaw/making-of-open-and-democratic-europe-reading-brexit-through-ep-thomps <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="normal">There is no room for Britain’s turning away from Europe to a fantasy mid-Atlantic or neo-Commonwealth position of the kind floated, typically unseriously, by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Morris_Strawberry_Thief_1883.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Morris_Strawberry_Thief_1883.jpg" alt="William Morris printed textile, Strawberry thief, 1883. " title="" width="460" height="298" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>William Morris printed textile, Strawberry thief, 1883. Wikicommons. Public domain.</span></span></span>It is said that the Brexiteers have the identity side of the debate sown up. The British, or at least the English, do not <em>feel</em> European. We have our history as a proud, island people - they, on the Continent, have very different traditions. It is remarkable how this myth has taken root, although the English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish so obviously share common linguistic, cultural and indeed political roots with other Europeans, and when the whole recorded history of our islands has been so bound up with the Continent. It is particularly outrageous since so many British people have given their lives over the last century, not so that we can retreat into Little England but so that Europe can be free and democratic.</p> <p class="normal">Britain’s post-imperial delusions have been the main reason for blindness to this history. When the Common Market was first proposed, many on the left not only saw it as a capitalist club, but believed that Great Britain remained powerful enough to stand alone as a social democracy, or at least that the renovated Commonwealth could provide sufficient international support. The French president of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, is generally credited with puncturing these illusions (which Thatcherism had already undermined) with his speech to the Trades Union Congress in 1988. However the ground had really been broken by the remarkable movement for European Nuclear Disarmament (END) which was launched in 1980, and above all in the speeches and writings of E.P. Thompson.</p> <p class="normal">Edward Thompson was the great historian of the <em>English</em> working class and of those quintessentially English radical thinkers, William Morris and William Blake. He had famous spats with compatriots whom he saw as insufficiently attentive to ‘the peculiarities of the English’, and with a French philosopher whose grand theory seemed, to him, insufficiently grounded in the very English medium of empirical reality. And yet his political passion as a leader of END was not just to end the Cold War, or to remove nuclear weapons, but to unify Europe. Indeed he saw European unity, achieved through popular movements from below as well as through agreement between states, as the key to peace and disarmament.</p> <p class="normal">Unlike some younger disarmers, Edward saw a direct link between Europe’s armed liberation from fascism in 1944-45 and the peaceful liberation from the Cold War blocs which END proposed. The first liberation was very personal to him, and not only because at the age of 20 he had fought through the Italian peninsula in the last year of the world war (he had very mixed feelings about the military experience, explored in his moving essay,‘The LIberation of Perugia’). More importantly, his elder brother Frank had been executed while fighting with Bulgarian resistance fighters in 1944, giving his life, as Edward saw it, for a free and democratic Europe.</p> <p class="normal">In the early 1980s, Britons like other Europeans faced another existential threat, compared to which the worst failures of today’s EU bureaucracy pale into insignificance. ‘We Europeans are packed into this small continent,’ Edward noted, while the Warsaw Pact and NATO targeted multiple nuclear warheads at each and every city. (Some of the atmosphere of the time was conveyed in the recent TV drama, <em>Deutschland 83</em>.) Starting from a British base, Edward and his comrades pursued a single-minded strategy not just of linking the burgeoning West European peace movements with each other, but also of engaging these movements with the pressure for democracy in Eastern Europe. This goal set END apart from those in CND who saw removing nuclear weapons as the ultimate goal, and put it on a collision course with Stalinists who objected only to western nuclear systems. </p> <p class="normal">It was a visionary strategy, set out in Thompson’s 1981 lecture, <em>Beyond the Cold War</em>. When first proposed, there were millions protesting NATO missiles on the streets of West European capitals, but apart from Solidarity in Poland (primarily a free trade union, and crushed by a military coup in late 1981), Eastern Europe had only small numbers of open dissidents. Many of them were suspicious of western peaceniks. Yet the end of the 1980s saw millions on the streets of Eastern European capitals, calling for democracy and bringing an end to the division of Europe in essentially the way that Edward and END foresaw. It helped, of course, that Mikhail Gorbachev had come to power in the Soviet Union, and that he and Ronald Reagan began a <em>rapprochement </em>that was unimagineable in 1981, but both of these developments were partly enabled by the peace movements.</p> <p class="normal">After the dramatic revolutions of 1989, not even Margaret Thatcher, and certainly not the British Labour Party, could withstand the European tide. The new Europe had many flaws – new nationalist parties replaced civil society movements in the east, the west helped foist privatisation on the former Communist countries, NATO expanded and increasingly alienated Russia, and a currency bloc was launched which could not withstand the full-blown financial crisis which spread from the United States in 2008. But in the 1990s and early 2000s, the European idea was strong. The German and French governments even stood out against George W. Bush’s catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003.</p> <p class="normal">Edward Thompson died in 1993, much exercised by the terrible new wars in the Balkans. The new Europe he envisaged was certainly much more than the EU of the national leaders and bureaucrats, of whose limitations Yugoslavia was an early indication. But their EU expansion was only possible because of how the popular movements ended the Cold War, very much as he had hoped and foreseen. </p> <p class="normal">Doubtless Thompson, if he were alive today, would rail against the shameful failure of the EU to live up to its obligations to refugees and the vindictive policies of the Eurozone towards Greece. I am sure he would excoriate David Cameron for his abdication of Britain’s responsibility for Europe’s refugees, and I can imagine a withering dissection of the Prime Minister’s ‘renegotiation’ of migrant workers’ rights. </p> <p class="normal">But Thompson’s vision leaves no room for Britain’s turning away from Europe to a fantasy mid-Atlantic or neo-Commonwealth position of the kind floated, typically unseriously, by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. The slogan of the progressive pro-EU campaign group, Another Europe is Possible, sums up what Edward was saying in the 1980s in his campaign against the Cold War division of the continent. We have to remain part of the European Union to make a better kind of Europe possible.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> England </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU England UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics CEMI brexit box BrexitChasm Brexit2016 Martin Shaw Fri, 25 Mar 2016 00:01:06 +0000 Martin Shaw 100868 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "Second star to the right and straight on till morning": leaving Europe for the imperial Never-Never Land https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/david-marquand/second-star-to-right-and-straight-on-till-morning-leaving-europe-for-imperial-neve <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Brexiteers believe in a myth of British exceptionalism. It's time they stopped telling themselves fairy tales.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 12.16.36.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 12.16.36.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'> Håkan Dahlström, some rights reserved</span></span></span></p><p>Self-evidently, Cameron’s settlement with the rest of the EU is deeply flawed. It has damaged the Union, loosened Britain’s already fraying links with it and strengthened the neo-liberal hegemony in the prosperous north of the continent. It does nothing to lessen the appeal of anti-European populists of the radical right. It has benefited our overblown and sometimes criminal financial sector, but it does nothing for the people of the United Kingdom. No one with progressive instincts could possibly campaign for it. </p><p> Yet a progressive vision of the EU and its future is desperately needed. So-called ‘big beasts’ have been flocking into the Brexit camp – Lord Michael Howard; Lord Nigel Lawson; Lord David Owen; Ian Duncan Smith; Boris Johnson; Michael Gove; and, in his own special way, Nigel Farage. But the big beasts have little brains. They offer a Houdini-like escape from the constraints of the real world. With one bound, they tell us, Britain can be free: free from pesky European judges, free from tiresome EU regulations, free from EU migrants, free from EU-made trade deals and, above all, free from the negotiation, consultation and compromise which are fundamental to the political process of the extraordinary confederation which is the European Union.&nbsp; </p><p> They have either forgotten that the European project has given the continent the longest period of peace it has enjoyed since the fall of the Roman Empire or don’t believe that this epochal achievement matters. The fact that, albeit with occasional shortcomings, democracy and the rule of law now prevail from the Blasket Isles to the Byelorussian border and from the Arctic Circle to Cyprus means nothing to them. They inveigh against the allegedly sclerotic economic model of the Eurozone, but fail to acknowledge that Germany’s is the third largest economy in the world, and easily the most productive and competitive economy in Europe, characterised by a highly trained labour force producing high value-added goods. They make much of the so-called democratic deficit in EU governance, but they are indifferent to the manifest democratic deficit in the governance of the United Kingdom, whose union state systematically privileged England at the expense of the Celtic nations, goading the Catholic majority of Ireland into secession and (more recently) the Scots into voting overwhelmingly for a party whose ultimate objective is an independent Scotland. Outside the EU, they insist, we shall once again be able to paddle our own canoe. The fact that the canoe is patently leaky, and the sea crowded with ocean liners is neither here or there. </p> <p> Behind all this lies a Myth: a myth of British exceptionalism; of Britain as a uniquely freedom-loving country, besting continental tyrants from Philip II of Spain, by way of Louis XIV and Napoleon, to Adolf Hitler; of Britain as a maritime and global power, carrying the blessings of free trade and laissez-faire to all four continents; and of Britain as the mother of nations from Canada to New Zealand. It is a venerable Myth. It goes back to Shakespeare’s hymn to England as a ‘precious stone set in the silver sea’, to the chauvinistic bombast of ‘Rule Britannia’, to Rudyard Kipling’ condescending pity for ‘lesser breeds without the law’, to Henry Newbolt’s ‘Drake’s Drum’ and to the ‘thin red line’ that stood between the advancing Russians and Balaklava during the Crimean War. As myths go, it is comparatively benign. It is certainly less obnoxious than the myth of Poland as the Christ among nations or the myth of Moscow as the third Rome. But its consequences have been as pernicious.</p> <p> The old saying that the British won their empire ‘in a fit of absence of mind’ could hardly be further from the truth. It was won by a mixture of force and fraud. It was spawned, in large part, by the slave trade. In the eighteenth century, the people of Bengal were subjected to a regime of extortion and cruelty; later the great Indian Rebellion, once known as the Indian mutiny, was crushed with outrageous brutality. Hong Kong was acquired in a so-called Opium War when the British forcibly resisted attempts by the Chinese authorities to save their people from addiction to a dangerous drug. The indigenous people of Australia suffered an appalling genocide at the hands of British settlers. After World War Two, British troops waged a long series of (fortunately unsuccessful) campaigns designed to stamp out independence movements in colonies and quasi-colonies ranging from Cyprus to Kenya to Malaya to Egypt. </p> <p> Much more damaging than any of this today is the strange survival of the mentality of empire in a post-imperial era. Nearly 70 years ago, the American statesman, Dean Acheson, mischievously pointed out that Britain had lost an empire but failed to find a role. He would have been closer to the truth if he had said that, after the loss of empire, the British political class retreated, Peter Pan like, into an imperial never-never land and refused to grow up. The results are omnipresent: the allegedly special relationship with the United States which the Americans themselves have never acknowledged; the Iraq war, which served no conceivable British interest; the archaic rituals of the Court and the preposterous gradations of the biennial honours lists, which symbolise a culture of subject-hood rather than of citizenship; the survival of a grotesquely swollen and unelected House of Lords; and the refusal of both the main political parties to accept that Trident is both enormously costly and irrelevant to the real threats which the British people now face, to mention only a few.</p> <p> All of these ills would be aggravated by Brexit. Britain outside the EU would be a meaner, nastier, more inward-looking place. Indeed, the overwhelming probability is that ‘Britain’ would no longer exist. If Brexit were carried by English votes against the will of the Scottish people, Scotland would almost certainly leave the United Kingdom and the Treaty of Union which merged the two kingdoms of Scotland and England into Great Britain would be torn up. In the slightly longer term, Wales would probably follow suit: no self-respecting Welsh person would want to be shackled in perpetuity to a mingy, whining, Tory England. Brexit, in short, means break-up. David Cameron’s warning that it would be a ‘leap in the dark’ is an under-statement. It would be a leap from an imaginary frying pan into an all-too real fire. </p> <p><strong><em>&nbsp;<span>Liked this piece? Please support us with</span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><span> £3 a month </span></a><span>so we can keep producing independent journalism.</span></em></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/blimey-it-could-be-brexit">Blimey, it could be Brexit! Introduction</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Brexit2016 BrexitChasm David Marquand Thu, 24 Mar 2016 00:00:01 +0000 David Marquand 100834 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Blimey, it could be Brexit! Introduction https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/blimey-it-could-be-brexit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A battle over Britain consumes the Tory party, that will decide the fate of the UK and perhaps even Europe. In a week by week experiment worthy of this dramatic development, Anthony Barnett aims to write a book about it ahead of the referendum. Here is the introduction.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2015-ABarnett ©sfreundphotos-DSC_5289.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/2015-ABarnett ©sfreundphotos-DSC_5289.jpeg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anthony Barnett. Photograph by Scarlett Freund. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><h2><strong>Preface</strong> </h2><p>On 23 June the British could take leave of their traditional rulers whose self-interested wisdom they have deferred to for so long, and vote to exit the European Union. Or at least the English could do so. Two weeks after the Prime Minister David Cameron announced a June date for a referendum on staying in the EU or leaving, a <a href="http://whatukthinks.org/eu/opinion-polls/poll-of-polls/">poll of six polls</a> held between 24 February and 6 March had <em>Remain</em> on 51 per cent and <em>Leave</em> on 49 per cent, while the Financial Times running poll had <em>Remain</em> on 45 per cent and <em>Leave</em> on 40 per cent with 15 per cent undecided. The result is too close to call, especially as turn-out by the anti-EU voters is likely to be higher. </p> <p>A decision to <em>Leave</em> would be a colossal upset for the country’s government and civil service, the interests they represent and their international and corporate allies. From the start their hope and presumption was that any referendum would be a foregone conclusion. However, against the backdrop of trans-Atlantic discontent with the global elite, and our European continent’s chronic financial insecurity and unprecedented influx of refugees, something quite extraordinary and surprising is taking place in the UK. The Westminster ruling order has splintered and the political system is going into a nosedive from which it may not emerge intact.&nbsp; </p><p>The likelihood is that the lucky country will pull round at the last minute with only a few bits and pieces of its governing machinery breaking away. Since Wellington declared that winning the battle of Waterloo in 1815 was “a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life”, there has been a dramatic lineage of narrow escapes. The British expeditionary army evacuated Dunkirk in 1940 because the Germans failed for three crucial days to press their advantage. The Argentinians surrendered the Falklands just one day before 100 mile an hour winter storm would have made the British attack unsustainable, and anyway there were almost no shells left. When, tired of a relentlessly negative and patronising official campaign, Scottish opinion swung towards voting ‘Yes’ to independence and leaving the Union in their referendum less than two years ago, a last minute ‘Vow’ by the leaders of the three main London parties to give more powers to the Scottish parliament was scrambled together. It made sure there was a ‘No’ to the break up of Britain. As an escape artist the British regime is up there with Houdini; putting itself into situations it should never have been in and then, through cunning and fortitude as well as luck, finding a way out.&nbsp; <span class="print-no mag-quote-right"> As an escape artist the British regime is up there with Houdini.</span></p><p>Yet it is far better than Houdini, being no mere act of entertainment even if it is that as well. For in the process of dodging death it also transforms itself, sometimes profoundly, discarding its own past like a moth leaving its chrysalis. It was an Empire that declared war on Germany in 1939; it was a country that emerged victorious in 1945. It was a dispirited, nostalgic, social democratic, Churchillist country that dispatched an expeditionary force to recapture the Falklands in 1982; it was a priapic, nostalgic Thatcherite state that returned from the re-conquest determined to turn its guns on the trade unions. It was still a British union that negotiated the holding of a Scottish referendum in Edinburgh in 2012; it was a permanently fractured one that emerged in 2014, with Labour’s hegemony north of the border broken forever - and with it any prospect of a once united Kingdom enjoying rule by a single party with majorities across its two main nations.&nbsp; </p><p>The 2016 EU referendum will be another watershed. It was conceived (in so far as those who thought it up thought it might happen) in complacency, as a way of&nbsp; “putting the issue to bed” as if it was a noisy child, and dealing with the “fruitcakes” of the UK Independence Party and Tory backbenchers who believe what they say. Instead, the referendum is proving to be an earthquake not a pacifier. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">The referendum is proving to be an earthquake not a pacifier. </span></p> <p>What is very interesting indeed about this referendum is that it for real. Unexpectedly it is not a foregone conclusion. A momentous question of the country’s future is being put to the British people when majority opinion has not been stitched up! This is both a welcome step towards becoming an authentic democracy and signals the coming breakdown of the traditional regime. </p><p>The quality of British rule was always to seek with every sinew of its skill the consent of the unwashed (preferably through deference rather than enthusiasm as the latter was dangerous and might not be contained), while at the same time <em>never</em> letting go or permitting its fate to be decided by them. To give an example, when the expansion of the franchise in the second-half of the nineteenth century threatened the merest whiff of the possibility of a working class government, the device of a permanent civil service was created to put the administration of state power ‘beyond’ politics. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">Whatever the outcome on the referendum battlefield the country will not be same. </span></p><p>The first UK referendum on membership of what was then The Common Market in 1975 remained within this framework. Although an unfortunate precedent, the actual risk of a negative outcome was so minimised as to make the result inevitable. It gave a patina of democratic legitimacy to a decision already taken by the cross-party governing Establishment and the unanimous support of big business, ('"a levee-en-masse by Britain's commercial sector, of a kind never before seen at a British election."... Sainsbury's and BP's donation alone were three times that of the entire "No" campaign, the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35811941">BBC reports</a>). They had no intention whatsoever of allowing the 1972 Treaty to be reversed. All the referendum did was permit the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson a means to frustrate the left wing of his party led by Tony Benn and emboldened by working class militancy. Cameron hoped to repeat precisely this exercise. His aim was to host a tournament that looked like a battle. Instead we have a genuine clash.&nbsp; </p><p>Whatever the outcome on the referendum battlefield the country will not be same. Little will remain unchanged if voters embrace Brexit. That is unarguable. But what if England votes <em>Leave</em> but the UK as a whole does not, thanks to <em>Remain</em> majorities in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland? This will unleash a fight for democracy in Shakespeare’s land and a federal Britain will materialise, if the union lasts at all. </p> <p>What if a <em>Remain</em> vote is in the end decisive, as everyone once expected? Will all default back to ‘normal’? Can we carry on with ‘carry on’ when a decision to <em>Remain</em> will finally bust the myth of the ‘absolute sovereignty’ of parliament.</p><p>The question of sovereignty should have been tackled in 1972 when the UK passed the <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/68/contents">European Communities Act</a> that subordinated our government to the Treaties of what was to become the European Union, </p><blockquote><p>All such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions from time to time created or arising by or under the Treaties, and all such remedies and procedures from time to time provided for by or under the Treaties, as in accordance with the Treaties are without further enactment to be given legal effect or used in the United Kingdom shall be recognised and available in law, and be enforced, allowed and followed accordingly… </p></blockquote> <p>Which means, ‘That’s that’. The legal reality of ‘Parliamentary Sovereignty’ evaporated at the hands of Parliament itself. However, in life collective self-belief is the reality that counts. Myths do not need to be true to be effective; often the opposite is the case. And the myth of the sovereignty of parliament lived on. But it is hardly likely that this can continue if the British consciously vote <em>Remain</em> when warned that it terminates the historic form of parliamentary self-government in both principle and in detail. How does a proud country move forward after it has torpedoed what it regards as the ark of the covenant of its constitution? </p> <p>So change is coming - significant change suddenly accelerated by the before-and-after nature of the Referendum; change that will set the UK’s direction for years to come. </p> <p>Why is it happening in this way? What are the forces causing and shaping it? Who will determine the consequences and how? And, a question that matters for me, is it possible to organise a progressive, egalitarian outcome… eventually. </p> <p>Which leads on to deeper issues coming into focus thanks to the referendum.</p><ol><li>A country’s constitution is a shaping force. The most famous book about the UK’s is called “The English Constitution”. Written by Walter Bagehot in 1865 it was a eulogy to arrangements then getting into their stride. A century and a half later it is arthritic to the point of being crippled. </li><li>One consequence is the chilling rise of surveillance powers to compensate for the loss of legitimacy. </li><li>Britain’s national question also is tied up in the referendum, which has been driven by English not British opinion. </li><li>Can and should this be the opportunity to confront it honestly?</li><li>Suppose the EU had been growing economically faster than the UK, thanks to a financial system based on solidarity, and this had laid the foundation for a shared, well-governed response to the refugee crisis, would <em>Leave</em> be so popular or its case at all compelling? The indisputable failures of the EU have shattered its claim to be a home for British ambitions while provoking dangerous authoritarianism. </li><li>Are the EU’s failures a mere function of its structure, or part of an ‘end of an era’ for the Washington system? Is the possibility of Brexit a signal of an economic fracturing of globalisation already under way?</li></ol> <p>There is another question especially pertinent but not confined to those of us on the left as we observe the Conservative government battle it out and puzzle and fear the consequences. There is a story about a warm summer night when Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson decided to sleep rough on the Moors rather than head for the local inn still some miles away. In the middle of the night Holmes shook Dr Watson by the shoulder and woke him. “Look up there, Watson”, he said, pointing to the stars, “what do you make of the significance of <em>that</em>?” “I’m not sure”, said the sleepy Watson, “it shows the night sky of the northern hemisphere”.&nbsp; “No, no, my dear Watson, what <em>else</em>?” “Well, Holmes, it is a dark, clear moonless summer night and Orion is in the ascendant.”&nbsp; “No, no, something more important than that, Watson.” “Oh I don’t know, Holmes”, Dr. Watson replied now wide awake, “what <em>does</em> it show?” Nothing stirred across the bleak, windless moors. After a short silence Sherlock Holmes replied, “It means, my dear Watson, that someone has stolen our tent”. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">What does it mean that we can see the strange movement of the planets of the UK’s Conservative party so clearly?</span></p> <p>What does it mean that we can see the strange movement of the planets of the UK’s Conservative party so clearly? It means that something has stolen away the British left. The Conservatives have no need to hide their differences as they sense no serious threat to their heavenly supremacy. Just as the absence of a thrusting, profitable European Union has made <em>Leave </em>a credible option, so the absence of a viable, threatening, popular Labour Party, confident of winning the next election, means the Tories feel no need to stick together to preserve their current advantage. More significant, the Labour Party has almost nothing to say of any vitality or interest about the future of Europe and why the UK should, or should not, be involved. I’m not blaming Labour’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn as if it’s his fault. None of the many who are ambitious for his job have uttered any credible arguments worthy of the stakes in play. </p> <p>On returning from his negotiations in Brussels, the Prime Minister stood outside 10 Downing Street and addressed the people: </p> <blockquote><p>We are approaching one of the biggest decisions this country will face in our lifetimes. Whether to remain in a reformed European Union – or to leave. This choice goes to the heart of the kind of country we want to be. </p></blockquote> <p>And the Labour leader <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35633821">dismisses</a> Cameron’s negotiations as a “theatrical sideshow”, as if it doesn’t really matter what the referendum outcome is. </p> <p>Should this abdication continue over the next three months, another generation of Conservative hegemony may be assured. It is not passivity without consequence, for if Labour supporters are demotivated from voting thanks to the party’s lethargic evacuation from the referendum debate, <em>Remain</em> could lose. In addition, such absentionism also risks Labour's own electoral collapse. Once a great party withdraws from history how can it ever regain a role in shaping it? The left will be condemning itself to marginal status in the articulation of who rules, how they do so and the country’s self-perceived nature and international standing, if this embarrassed shuffling and paralysis of brain synapses continues. If I can achieve anything writing this, it is to lay down some foundations for a revival of the left in England after the referendum.</p> <p>So I am going to draft a book, publishing a chapter a week if I can, through to the referendum itself; whereupon, if I survive, I will go through it and turn it into a publishable stand-alone account. My personal starting point is that I am privileged to feel European while being a vigorous critic of the oligarch-nature of the EU. I want to engage with efforts to change it and am for <em>Remain</em> so as to transform the EU into a democratic association of free countries. That’s different from the free-market plus corporate power arrangement that Tory Brexiteers want to see. I’ll happily ‘share sovereignty’ to secure liberty, indeed it’s essential. However, my position is no more interesting than that of anyone else. Possibly less so as it is not ‘on offer’ so far as the wider public is concerned, despite the efforts of the Green Party backed <a href="http://www.anothereurope.org/">Another Europe is Possible</a>.</p> <p>In an essay in the <a href="https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/4799/writing-is-despotism-but-reading-is-democracy">New Humanist</a> on the responsibilities of a writer, Philip Pullman describes how he does not set out to create a fictional story with the cause decided, knowing in advance what he thinks about the characters and events. Writing is a journey that explores and resolves these things. Something similar attracts me to the lesser investigation of writing about the present. I enjoy the tension of trying to keep my judgment while retaining an open-mind. It demands listening to those I frankly regard as enemies of the good, who all too often have a cunning grip on reality from which we must learn, even if they use it to play on the fears of those who are anxious for their jobs and their children. Already, in sketching out the initial issues thrown up by the referendum I have had to ask questions I’d not done before and sketch out answers that I’m not sure will fly. What better way to test this than to publish draft chapters – I say “draft” to give myself the privilege of re-formulation – in openDemocracy. </p><h2><strong>Introduction</strong></h2> <p>I start this investigation with the noteworthy fact that the UK’s traditional governing party is split from top to bottom. You might regard this as a sign of its weakness. The playwright David Hare <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/08/david-hare-why-the-tory-project-is-bust">has just argued</a> that the “Tory project is bust” and its “engine has died”, not least because Margaret Thatcher’s “grafting of foreign ideas onto the British economy has failed”. Somehow he implies that their immigrant status contributed to the problem. Should we embrace Keynes because he was a Brit? Thatcher’s interest in ideas was a virtue as was her indifference as to their country of origin, even if the ideas themselves were not. To be sure she signalled the abandonment of traditional post-war ‘consensus’ conservatism. That project is indeed long bust. But the English ruling classes famously embraced ‘flexibility’ camouflaged by tradition, since James II was sent packing in 1688 in what its historian Steven Pincus calls “The First Modern Revolution”. Today, flexibility goes by the term ‘modernisation’. It can be more or less successful or it can indeed fail. The conflict, which has broken out at the very top of the Conservative Party, is about how best to embrace the power of change. With which forces should it bend? What is the direction of the winds in the howling financial gales of the early 21st century? Tory England has begun a battle over how to reposition for the post-crash, post-Iraq and probably post-Euro world. Fortunate is any party that has the vitality and striving for renewal to be ‘bust’ like them - even if the vital fluids of their life-support is oodles of dosh from hedge-fund managers while the party membership withers. </p> <p>There were two weeks between the publication, on 2 February, of the draft agreement over the Prime Minister’s deal to renegotiate the UK’s terms of membership of the EU, in the form of <a href="http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/02/02-letter-tusk-proposal-new-settlement-uk/">the letter</a> (along with accompanying statements and declarations) from the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the final agreement issued on the 19th by Europe’s Council of Ministers. During that time British <em>Leave</em> campaigners <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/feb/04/vote-leave-deputy-chairman-condemns-damaging-bickering-mills-cummings-referendum">fell out</a>. Two organisations, <a href="https://leave.eu/en/our-campaign">Leave.EU</a> supported by the far-right UKIP leader Nigel Farage and <a href="http://www.voteleavetakecontrol.org/campaign">Vote Leave</a> supported by UKIP’s only MP Douglas Carswell, a techno-democrat, vied with each other to become the group that would be designated as their side’s official campaign. The dispute was over substance and money. According to law, the <a href="http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/find-information-by-subject/elections-and-referendums/upcoming-elections-and-referendums/eu-referendum">Electoral Commission</a> that regulates referendums designates the official campaign if there is more than one organisation seeking this role. It then alone is authorised to raise and spend money and publish the literature that goes through every front door. As much as £6 million is at stake. The substantial disagreement between <em>Leave.EU</em> and <em>Vote Leave </em>is over strategy: should migration and fear of the costs of continued membership of the EU lead the case for Brexit, or should the emphasis be on the positive prospects of a Britain freed from overbearing EU regulation? </p> <p>Some of the bitter rows between the two campaigns and their personal vitriol was leaked to the press. How perfectly auspicious, the Government must have thought. As Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne lined up their Cabinet colleagues to back their renegotiation and support <em>Remain</em>, the “fruitcakes” were falling out attacking each other. The Prime Minister looked forward to storming into a confident lead in the opinion polls as the referendum was declared. The game plan was that by the end of the first week, the ‘Outers’ would be reduced to a melange of the marginal led by UKIP’s Nigel Farage. The only exception was going to be the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, the one time Tory party leader from 2001 to 2003. But his weirdness would if anything be confirmed by his holding hands with Farage. An alliance of the Government, the civil service, the BBC, the CBI and the TUC, not to speak of Labour and the Lib Dems would be more than sufficient. An unassailable 15 to 20 point lead would be established from the get-go and the <em>Leave</em> campaign would be marginalised as a protest movement with perhaps 30-35 per cent support.&nbsp; </p><p>After the usual drawn-out European summit, the other 27 European countries unanimously agreed to tweak the UK’s terms of membership. I will analyse the deal they concluded in a later chapter. Cameron then announced there would be a referendum on 23rd of June. The days that followed did not go as the Prime Minister had hoped. Instead, and surely in part due to the pressure, encouragement, arguments and influence of the right-wing press, some key celebrity-politicians with a patina of gravity sufficient for them to be considered ‘heavyweight’ in today’s Westminster, gave all-important credibility to <em>Leave</em>. Their arguments appeared to be cogent; their demand for self-government and sovereignty seemed democratic; the refugees storming Europe gave their call to control the borders urgency; they turned the tables on what they scorned as <em>Remain’s </em>‘project fear’. More important, they positioned the EU as a backward, dis-functioning dinosaur from the past, whereas theirs is a vision of Britain getting back its mojo as the world’s fifth biggest economy. The country is, in their view, a British Gulliver tied down by a web of Lilliputian Brussels regulations and restraints. It can break free and rise up to its full height, if only the people have the courage to snap the petty bonds - for they have the strength. </p> <p>First, Michael Gove, the strangely intelligent ‘Lord Chancellor’ (in charge of the justice system) although sitting in the House of Commons. He is an ex-Murdoch columnist and long-time family friend of David Cameron. On Saturday 20 February, the day after Cameron returned from Brussels with his deal, Gove published a cogently argued <a href="https://www.politicshome.com/foreign-and-defence/articles/news/michael-goves-statement-backing-leave-campaign">1,500 word statement</a>. It set out a democratic case for leaving that I’ll return to and also argued: </p> <blockquote><p>The EU is an institution rooted in the past and is proving incapable of reforming to meet the big technological, demographic and economic challenges of our time. It was developed in the 1950s and 1960s and like other institutions which seemed modern then, from tower blocks to telexes, it is now hopelessly out of date. The EU tries to standardise and regulate rather than encourage diversity and innovation. It is an analogue union in a digital age.</p></blockquote> <p>There was a personal twist to this neat, epochal condemnation. It repeated a taunt that Cameron had made to Gordon Brown ten years ago, attacking the then Labour leader’s budget, “He is an analogue politician in a digital age. He is the past.” <a href="http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/a-very-civil-civil-war-inside-the-tories-eu-dogfight/">Apparently</a> the journalist Sarah Vine who is Gove’s wife scripted it for Cameron. So when the Prime Minister read these words he would have known the taunt he had borrowed was now turned on him.</p> <p>On Sunday 21st, Gove was followed by Boris Johnson, an MP and the Mayor of London. A media favourite, whose delightful, learned and unpredictable personality is as fat as his principles are withered, and who turns a cunning column in the Telegraph, ‘Boris’ is that rare thing, a genuine European Tory unlike the Prime Minister. His leadership ambitions, however, ensured his allegiance to his party’s Europhobia (a majority of members and about half its MPs favouring Brexit). And why not, isn’t this what political parties are for, to find leaders who will express their wishes?&nbsp; </p><p>The combination of Johnson’s stout pragmatism and Gove’s willowy principle might in other times has looked like Laurel and Hardy. Not now. &nbsp;The valency of Iain Duncan Smith was transformed by his attachment to these two senior colleagues. Whereas in bed with Farage the peculiarity of Duncan Smith would have come to the fore, joining forces with G &amp; J brought out his unmatched consistency. He had always been hostile to the EU. It was this that ensured the support of Margaret Thatcher and his elevation into the role of Conservative Party leader in 2001 despite his obvious lack of qualification for the top job. For someone had to stop Ken Clarke, who obviously <em>was </em>made for a leadership role, but was a pro-European patriarch through and through (and had joined those telling Thatcher her time was up in 1990). Duncan Smith’s brief two-year tenure as Conservative leader before a no-confidence motion by his own backbenchers forced him out, led him to witness the state of Britain. He came face to face with the millions of long-term unemployed. Ironically, Thatcher’s destruction of British industry and her squandering of the state’s share of the North Sea Oil bonanza on unemployment benefits, had created a situation where <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8707652.stm">Iain Duncan Smith concluded</a>, “A system that was originally designed to support the poorest in society is now trapping them in the very condition it was supposed to alleviate”. He dedicated his political life thereafter to reversing this legacy. </p> <p>With Tim Montgomerie he created the Centre for Social Justice and developed the concept of a universal credit system that would integrate the range of different payments going to those out of work and their families so as to ensure that ‘work always pays’. The simple narrative had huge appeal to British conservatives: everyone should be obliged to aspire for their own good and find work; the genuinely poor are properly helped to ensure their dignity; dependency was to be abjured – combining the tough, the compassionate and the cost-effective. It became a project of such influence that Cameron was obliged to make him Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2010 when the coalition that preceded the present Tory administration came to office. There he remained because there was nothing else he wanted to do or be. </p> <p>Under conditions of economic growth and supremely good administration Duncan Smith’s approach might have worked, because it needs funds in the short term, care of application and consistency. Instead, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/18/the-guardian-view-iain-duncan-smith-very-political-resignation">appalling implementation</a> making it “years behind schedule”, combined with the cruel folly of austerity and its increasingly arbitrary targets, undermined it. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/22/iain-duncan-smith-brexit-resignation-damage-prime-minister">Polly Toynbee</a> has set out a corruscating overview of the consequences. The Chancellor and Prime Minister had held back on high-turnout, largely Tory voting pensioners. The public welfare bill for pensions rose by 25 per cent from 2010 to over £90 billion. Instead it was the disabled who were singled out for punishment in the pre-referendum March budget. At the same time there was a tax sweetener for the wealthier. The Treasury told Duncan Smith that even if they rolled back the controversial cuts for the disabled he would still have to find extra billions from his welfare budget. He resigned. Penning at remarkable speed a devastating <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35848891">two-page letter</a> to the Prime Minister observing that the cuts are now “distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest”, he said not enough is being done to ensure "we are all in this together" (Cameron’s own catch phrase). </p> <p>Duncan Smith’s explosive resignation had nothing to do with the referendum, ostensibly. He was already taking full advantage of the lifting of collective omerta and official permission that Cabinet members were free to speak their minds. And he was speaking his without any apparent restraint. But his resignation could not have been better designed to strengthen <em>Leave. </em>It was a well-aimed, well-timed arrow that broke through the Chancellor’s armour plating. It wounded his integrity by exposing his deceitful manoeuvring and punctured the government’s claim to be acting for the people as a whole. On the morning of Sunday 20 March, on the BBC’s flagship interview programme, the Andrew Marr show, Duncan Smith went further. He said Cameron and Osborne deprived the poor and needy since they are not Tory voters, rather than govern as “one nation” and this had broken the “narrative” of helping everyone get the chance they deserved. He achieved three things in one blow. He reached out to working class voters tempted by Brexit but hostile to the Tories' welfare measures. He positioned the Prime Minister and his Chancellor as deceitful, self-interested and unpatriotic. He put himself foreward as a man without ambition who compromised, of course, when necessary but was fundamentally decent and straight. Provided he is not destroyed by the counter-attack this will lift the perception of Duncan Smith’s stature in the crucial weeks to come, as a man of integrity whose arguments can be trusted.</p> <p>If Gove represented an intellectual judgment about the need for Brexit, and Boris the opportunistic one, Duncan Smith personified an unwavering belief now justified by events. He had suffered no inner turmoil or need to wrestle with his decision to support <em>Leave</em>. This apparently moral stature allows him to propagate the dark side, and he lit the touch paper to a theme we will hear more of: that it is sticking with the EU is the ‘leap in the dark’, full ­of the risk of uncontrolled mass migration threatening everyone’s security and well-being. </p> <p>Over the course of a historic weekend Michael Gove and Boris Johnson joined Ian Duncan Smith: the Lord High Chancellor, the Mayor of London and the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions became The Three Brexiteers. Together they created a strike force of a different calibre to the outriders of UKIP. Four more Cabinet colleagues joined them. Not many out of 23 but enough to ensure they were not visibly isolated. The cause of Brexit was transformed. As <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/leaders/article4700662.ece">The Times</a> noted: Brexit was no longer in disarray and is no longer led by “fringe figures” but enjoys the “intellectual ballast” of Gove, the government’s most “energetic reformer”, and the “political viagra” of Johnson, the country’s “most popular politician”. What Cameron and his Chancellor and strategist, George Osborne, had hoped would be a protest movement had become an alternative direction of government. </p> <p>I want to stress this point. A country can’t take a new direction without credible replacement leaders if the old ones are committed to staying on the existing course. If a vote for Brexit meant giving power to the beer swigging, UKIP populist Nigel Farage, it would be lost already in the vapours of an unfashionable saloon. But Nigel now is noises off. The argument is no longer about the ‘case’ for leaving the EU but the choice of doing so, thanks to this distinguished breakaway group, at the top of the governing Conservative Party. </p> <p>And to prove the point, should they win a Brexit, Gove and Johnson will have support within the Cabinet far more extensive than the six who have declared openly against membership of the EU. <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21693990-conservative-splits-europe-belie-reality-eurosceptics-have-already-taken-over">The Economist</a> reports that Oliver Letwin who runs the Cabinet office “actually supports Brexit but thinks now is the wrong time”. Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, a close ally of George Osborne (already tagged as his future Chancellor if Osborne becomes Prime Minister), <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3328010/Sajid-Javid-declares-costs-staying-EU-outweigh-benefits.html">said in November</a> that the costs of staying in the EU outweigh its benefits. He infuriated the <em>Remain</em> campaign by declaring his support for Cameron’s deal in the <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3456567/It-s-failure-heavy-heart-believe-stay-Business-secretary-SAJID-JAVID-says-leaving-EU-come-high-cost.html">Daily Mail</a> like this,</p> <blockquote><p class="mol-para-with-font">It's clear now that the United Kingdom should never have joined the European Union. In many ways, it’s a failing project, an overblown bureaucracy in need of wide-ranging and urgent reform.</p><p class="mol-para-with-font">&nbsp;</p><p class="mol-para-with-font">Had we never taken the fateful decision to sign up, the UK would still, of course, be a successful country with a strong economy. We would be an independent trading nation like the US, Japan, or Canada. Over the years, we would have developed trade agreements with the EU and with others, all without surrendering control over immigration or our economic independence.</p><p class="mol-para-with-font">&nbsp;</p><p class="mol-para-with-font">If this year’s referendum were a vote on whether to join in the first place, I wouldn’t hesitate to stand up and say Britain would be better off staying out.</p><p class="mol-para-with-font">&nbsp;</p><p class="mol-para-with-font">But the question we’re faced with is not about what we should have done 43 years ago. It’s about what we should do now, in 2016. That’s why, with a heavy heart and no enthusiasm, I shall be voting for the UK to remain a member of the European Union.</p></blockquote> <p>With this kind of support, the <em>Remain</em> camp is doomed. Javid was promptly instructed to keep a zero profile henceforth. But his views demonstrate how easy it will be for a Brexit administration to assemble an experienced team in the unlikely outcome that they win. More ominous is his phrase, “with a heavy heart and no enthusiasm”. For if as expected a majority opt in the end for <em>Remain </em>this is likely to be the depressing mood of England’s acquiescence.</p> <p>Who will be the fourth Brexiteer? There is some healthy competition. David Owen could emerge as a striking, white-haired d’Artagnan. Now too old to be a contender, none could doubt that Owen proved himself to be his own man: the youngest Foreign Secretary in Callaghan’s Labour government of 1976-9, an international figure in global affairs, leader of the momentarily influential SDP as it sought to displace Labour in the early 1980s. Seen as right-wing by Labour traditionalists, Owen is a hard-working advocate of replacing the folly of Trident nuclear weapon system with a modest nuclear capacity as a contribution to negotiated disarmament. He has also used his position in the House of Lords as a life peer to advance by far the most principled defence of the NHS. No one in recent British politics did more. His analysis of how the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the USA and the EU would marketise the NHS in a way that puts reversing this beyond the powers of any new British government was exemplary. It became one of the factors turning him from being a leading British Europhile (though never a federalist) into an opponent of <em>Remain</em>. He added the credibility of experience to <em>Leave</em> and updated his book, <em><a href="http://www.lorddavidowen.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Europe-Restructured-160301.pdf">Europe Restructured (pdf download)</a> </em>to provide a historically based first-hand account justifying Brexit.&nbsp; </p><p>A younger candidate for the d’Artagnan role is Daniel Hannan, an MEP of wit and eloquence and a relentless opponent of the EU and its follies. Or perhaps it should be Gisela Stuart, the Labour MP from Birmingham who has just become the Chair of Vote Leave and will coordinate its campaign with Michael Gove. Born in Germany, Stuart participated in the failed process of drawing up a European constitution in 2005, so she can hardly be accused of Europhobia. It could make her a brilliant choice in a debate bereft of influential women.&nbsp; </p> <p>Because they are from the same party the Conservatives will seek to deny the depth of their differences.The press will trivialise the clashes as ‘blue on blue’ disarray. Those who despise the Tories will be enticed into seeing the arguments as a squabble between right-wingers who advocate the free market, embrace corporate power and are ‘as bad as each other’. But there are different ways of being reactionary. Behind all the blather about Cameron carrying on should he lose the referendum, the reality is that on 23 June Britain is being presented not just with a decision to remain or leave the European Union, but with a momentous choice of how the country will be led as well as by whom. A clash of orientation if not ideology is shaping up in the arguments between contending parties of a hegemonic conservatism. Early twenty-first century Toryism is splitting. How should the two sides be described and in what direction does each point? I intend to set out an answer next week. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blimey-it-could-be-brexit">Blimey, it could be Brexit! The whole book so far.</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk EU UK BrexitChasm Anthony Barnett Tue, 22 Mar 2016 07:32:21 +0000 Anthony Barnett 100797 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Talk Real London: "Exit Europe?" https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/niccol-milanese-marina-prentoulis-federico-campagna-ulrike-guerot-james-schneider <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Looking at the upcoming EU referendum in the UK, we ask: beyond the conservative in/out options dominating the headlines, what debate should we be having about Europe? (1 hour).</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="460" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hDzu2PuC4B4" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Niccolo Milanese (TalkReal chair) introduces the debate hosted by openDemocracy in London: </p><p>The UK referendum on EU membership coming up on June 23 is a potentially momentous historic occasion. It’s the first time in a generation that British citizens and Commonwealth citizens will have the right to decide if they stay in the European Union. It will clearly have effects for people in the UK for generations, for British people living in the rest of Europe and for Europeans living in the UK.</p> <p>It could also have serious consequences for the future of the United Kingdom itself which may break up if the UK were to vote to leave; Scotland could subsequently secede from the United Kingdom and one could imagine the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would also be thrown into question.</p> <p>But beyond the impact on British people, the referendum is situated in a space of debate about the future of Europe itself: should Europe be understood basically as a single market? Is the European Union a neoliberal construction?</p> <p>Should it just impose regulation but have very little say from the citizens and very little democracy? Or should Europe instead be understood as a progressive space of social justice, of transnational democracy, perhaps of peace in the world?</p> <p>We discuss this and more with Ulrike Guérot, founder and director of the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/European-Democracy-Lab-1511603692486388/">European Democracy Lab</a>, Federico Campagna, writer, philosopher and rights manager at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/VersoBks/">Verso Books</a>, Marina Prentoulis, from Syriza London and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/AnotherEuropeIsPossible/">Another Europe Is Possible</a>, and James Schneider from <a href="https://www.facebook.com/PeoplesMomentum/">Momentum</a>. </p><p>One thing is clear: the broad battle about the future of Europe goes well beyond the options on the referendum voting paper. The UK vote itself is situated in an ongoing continental debate about the future of how we’re going to live together in this European continent.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/lorenzo-marsili-carlos-delcl-s-juan-luis-sanchez-ana-mendez-mario-munero/talkreal">TalkReal in Madrid: new Spanish politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/costas-douzinas-sre%C4%87ko-horvat-lorenzo-marsili-jerome-roos-margarita-tsomou/democracy-rising-what-now">Democracy rising: what now for Syriza and Europe?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Marina Prentoulis Ulrike Guerot James Schneider Federico Campagna Niccoló Milanese Sat, 19 Mar 2016 00:07:11 +0000 Niccoló Milanese, Marina Prentoulis, Federico Campagna, Ulrike Guerot and James Schneider 100746 at https://www.opendemocracy.net EU freedom of movement and Brexit https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/sofia-vasilopoulou/eu-freedom-of-movement-and-brexit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>EU migration could be the make or break issue of the Brexit campaigns. Both sides understand this, but how will they approach the topic?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/15550431872_ca368e8268_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/15550431872_ca368e8268_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="272" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>fkwiatkowski/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)</span></span></span></p><p>Britain goes to the polls on 23 June to decide whether the country will remain in the European Union (EU) or exit it. <a href="http://whatukthinks.org/eu/questions/should-the-united-kingdom-remain-a-member-of-the-eu-or-leave-the-eu/">Sixty-eight polls</a> between 3 September 2015 and 3 March 2016 have shown that there is no clear winning camp. Public opinion has been constantly fluctuating, and the number of those responding with ‘I don’t know’ has been as high as 24%. In the context of such high levels of uncertainty among the British public about their vote choice, campaign frames will be very powerful tools for influencing vote choice. </p><p> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/WhatUKThinks_Poll_1556_20160310.jpg" alt="WhatUKThinks_Poll_1556_20160310.jpg" width="100%" /></p> <p class="image-caption">Source: Brexit opinion poll results from Sept. 2015 to March 2016. Blue = remain; green = leave; brown = don't know. For <a href="http://whatukthinks.org/eu/questions/should-the-united-kingdom-remain-a-member-of-the-eu-or-leave-the-eu/">a larger, interactive version of this chart, see whatukthinks.org</a> from NatCen Social Research.</p> <p>But which issues related to the UK referendum are likely to be powerful campaign frames? The key themes on the agendas of both the ‘in’ and ‘out’ campaigns include Britain’s economy and trade relationships with its European partners, British influence, and international standing as well as its security and borders.</p> <p>Interestingly both campaigns wrap their arguments in a sovereignty-based discourse; but from a different perspective. The out campaigns contend that sovereignty has been lost as a result of EU integration. They insist that by returning control of these areas to Britain, Brexit would give Britain its independence back. In contrast, the in campaigns tend to focus on the risks and costs involved in all these areas were Britain to leave the EU. At the same time, they argue that Britain has been able to keep sovereignty in key matters all along. </p> <h2>EU migration as an umbrella issue</h2> <p>Yet in light of widespread insecurity resulting from the on-going refugee crisis, the recent terrorist attacks in France and elsewhere, as well as UKIP’s recent electoral success in European and national elections, the referendum result seems hard to predict unless one also takes into account attitudes towards EU freedom of movement. This is a fundamental principle of cooperation within the EU framework, which relates to EU citizens’ right to freely work and reside in another EU country and to enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions, and all other social and tax <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=457">advantages</a>. </p> <p>One key message from latest opinion polls is that this issue is prominent in the hearts and minds of the voters. In December 2015, 61% of Britons felt that <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/COMMFrontOffice/PublicOpinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/STANDARD/surveyKy/2098">immigration was the most important issue facing the EU</a>, three percentage points above the EU average. Immigration was also their top concern at the national level at 44%. Moreover, borders, immigration, and welfare were the top priorities in British citizens’ <a href="https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/12/10/eu-polling-soft-leave/">EU negotiation wish list</a>. Fully 52% wanted Cameron to seek greater control of borders and immigration from the EU, while 46% asked for limits on benefits for EU migrants.</p> <p>By comparison, questions relating to sovereignty – such as greater powers for national parliaments and ending the commitment towards an ‘ever closer union’ – were lesser concerns, at 29% and 14% respectively. Economic issues related to employment regulation, the environment, and the much-contested ‘common agricultural policy’ were not as prominent among the British public. Interestingly, only 4% of the respondents felt that less regulation on the City and Britain’s financial sector should be a priority in the renegotiation.</p> <p><a href="http://www.itv.com/news/2016-02-15/itv-news-poll-big-rise-in-those-who-want-britain-to-leave-eu/">More recent polls</a> conducted following Cameron’s Brexit deal asked people which issue will be most important in deciding which way to vote. Control over the number of EU migrants entering Britain topped voters’ minds. This concern was higher than control over Britain’s laws, the economy, and national security. </p> <p>Attitudes towards EU migration and freedom of movement thus appear to be strong predictors of how people will cast their vote in the upcoming referendum. Entitlements related to freedom of movement within the EU, such as the right to work and receive welfare in another EU country, can constitute powerful frames because they tap into a variety of crosscutting concerns including the economy and security. They also have the potential to appeal to voters’ sentiment towards foreigners. </p> <p>Freedom of movement has a strong utilitarian component related to the financial costs and benefits of employing EU workers in the UK labour market. This issue may also relate to the broader question of who should be entitled to the collective goods of the state. Here, it asks whether EU migrants are putting unnecessary strain on the state and its resources; whether the welfare state has enough resources to cater to higher numbers of people living in the UK (especially in education and health); or whether, on the other hand, EU migration is a potential opportunity to improve the welfare state and its provisions through EU nationals’ taxation and welfare contributions. It also taps into questions of security, i.e. whether UK borders are adequately controlled and whether there is an association with higher levels of crime among EU migrations, especially those on lower incomes.</p> <h2>Incorporating this into the campaigns</h2> <p>Campaigns that focus on rational utilitarian arguments about the costs and benefits related to EU migration are likely to swing voters. These frames have already been used by the Leave.EU campaign, which argues that <a href="http://leave.eu/en/the-facts/on-migration">EU migration deprives low skilled Britons from work</a> and puts pressure on public services, and that leaving the EU would give Britain back its control over its borders. But they also appear in the more moderate Vote Leave campaign, which argues that EU membership entails an “<a href="http://www.voteleavetakecontrol.org/campaign">an open door to the EU while blocking people who could contribute to the UK coming from non-EU countries”</a>. Echoing the points made above, the conservative MP Philip Davies was <a href="http://www.nouse.co.uk/2016/02/29/victory-for-in-campaign-as-polsoc-hosts-first-brexit-debate/">recently quoted</a> as saying Britain would have to build “three cities the size of Birmingham” to accommodate the EU’s open border policy; and that “people [from the EU] are flying into Leeds Bradford airport to commit crimes, and are on their way home before the police can even investigate”. </p> <p>A credible ‘in’ campaign would need to take these issues on board and engage with the question of EU freedom of movement in order to openly address the ‘out’ campaign’s criticisms. This could be done, for example, by making a positive and progressive case about how <a href="http://www.cream-migration.org/files/FiscalEJ.pdf">EU citizens contribute to Britain’s growth</a> and <a href="https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/1114/051114-economic-impact-EU-immigration">the welfare state</a>. Specific information could include educational backgrounds of EU migrants, the sectors in which they work, assessments from companies on the extent to which EU migration is useful to their businesses, and the types of skills EU migrants bring to the UK economy that may be potentially lacking among the British workforce. </p> <p>If we assume that voters are rational, these are the kind of considerations that may influence their vote. But it must be said that making a positive case for the advantages of EU freedom of movement is a difficult task for both parties. <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexitvote/2016/02/12/speaking-for-britain-mps-broadly-reflect-the-views-of-their-supporters-on-europe-but-one-side-should-worry-a-little-more-than-the-other/">Recent work</a> comparing MPs to their voters on questions related to EU citizens’ right to work and welfare in other EU countries showed that Conservative MPs and their supporters take a similar – yet hard – stance on these issues. Labour supporters tend to oppose these rights less vehemently, yet they take a much harder line than their MPs on both issues.</p> <p>Even if we accept that decision-making is also influenced by <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexitvote/2016/02/25/emotions-to-shape-debates-and-decisions-in-the-upcoming-referendum/">emotions</a>, we know that certain emotions such as fear and anxiety about the future – which are currently prominent among the British electorate – are likely to result in more information-seeking and careful decision-making. Therefore an evidence-based campaign that addresses the issue of EU freedom of movement could be key in influencing the referendum outcome.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Brexit-banner-final-140px%40x2.png" width="100%" alt="Brexit Divisions small banner" /> <div style="font-size:85%"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/joe-costello/selling-referendums-in-ireland">Selling referendums in Ireland</a> JOE COSTELLO <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/thijs-berman/toward-citizens-europe">Toward a citizens’ Europe</a> THIJS BERMAN <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/charlotte-antonsen/you-never-know-with-referendums-view-from-denmark">You never know with referendums! A view from Denmark</a><br />CHARLOTTE ANTONSEN <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/andrew-glencross/who-speaks-for-europe-uk-referendum-as-pan-european-affair">Who speaks for Europe? The UK referendum as a pan-European affair</a> ANDREW GLENCROSS <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/laura-cram/empathy-belonging-and-uk-eu-question">Empathy, belonging and the UK-EU question</a><br />LAURA CRAM <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/kalypso-nicola-dis/letter-to-my-british-friends-for-europe-s-sake-please-stay">A letter to my British friends: for Europe’s sake, please stay</a><br />KALYPSO NICOLAÏDIS <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan/puzzle-of-eu-referendums">The puzzle of EU referendums</a><br />ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/renaud-thillaye/three-reality-checks-for-leavers-and-remainers">Three reality checks for leavers and remainers</a> RENAUD THILLAYE <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave">Why Britain will choose the safer option and Vote Leave</a> MATTHEW ELLIOTT <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/roland-rudd/winning-argument-for-staying-in-europe">Winning the argument for staying in Europe</a><br />ROLAND RUDD <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/simon-usherwood-katharine-wright/fighting-eu-referendum-online-strategies-frames-and">Fighting the EU referendum online: strategies, frames and successes</a><br />SIMON USHERWOOD<br />KATHARINE WRIGHT <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan-claudia-sternberg/brexit-divisions-what-you-ought-to-know-about-eu-">Brexit Divisions: What you ought to know about EU referendums</a><br />ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN<br />CLAUDIA STERNBERG </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/richard-whitman/defence-on-brexit-frontline">Defence on the Brexit frontline</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/pierre-kanuty/brexit-from-french-perspective">Brexit from the French perspective</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BrexitDivisions Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Sofia Vasilopoulou Fri, 11 Mar 2016 08:48:44 +0000 Sofia Vasilopoulou 100502 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Who speaks for Europe? The UK referendum as a pan-European affair https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/andrew-glencross/who-speaks-for-europe-uk-referendum-as-pan-european-affair <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Brexit debate greatly effects Europe yet commentary from EU figures and European heads of state has been surprisingly muted. Why is this so?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/1024px-Msc2011_SZ_002_Merkel_Ischinger_Cameron.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/1024px-Msc2011_SZ_002_Merkel_Ischinger_Cameron.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="372" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sebastian Zwez/Wikimedia Commons.</span></span></span></p><p>It is all too easy to treat the forthcoming UK referendum on EU membership as a purely British affair. Those quirky Brits! Late to the party and subsequently wracked by doubts over whether European integration is a good thing. Certainly, most of the public debate so far has revolved around British-centred questions: is the UK powerful enough to go it alone? Is it getting enough out of the current deal or can it negotiate a better arrangement? But while the referendum is itself a unilateral decision, the outcome will have EU-wide repercussions, especially in the event of a vote for ‘Brexit’. Voices speaking on behalf of Europe thus have a right to be heard, yet as with other EU referendums there is reason to ask who can articulate the European interest and whether such interventions are actually helpful.</p><p>Part of the difficulty in identifying who speaks for Europe is the very multiplicity of figureheads in the current EU system. There are no less than five presidential figures: the President of the Commission, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Parliament, the President of the European Central Bank, and the President of the Eurogroup. There is also the EU’s chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, whose job title is High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Each of these figures can rightly feel entitled to stick their oar in the UK referendum debate. </p><p>Federica Mogherini is on record, for example, as indicating that she expects the UK to remain in the EU. Perhaps tellingly, <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/britain-stay-eu-top-european-diplomat-mogherini-110814634.html">this comment was made during an event in China</a>. It is understandable why a diplomat would opt to be this discreet, as sticking one’s head above the parapet as an unelected EU official can provoke a backlash. This is exactly what happened during the Scottish independence debate in 2014. The then Commission President José Manuel Barroso <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26215963">cast doubt on Scotland’s ability to join the EU as an independent country</a>, sparking a deluge of counterclaims and criticism. Moreover, polling conducted in the wake of his comment that EU membership for an independent Scotland “would be extremely difficult, if not impossible” showed an even split as <a href="http://survation.com/a-tale-of-two-referendums-fear-of-leaving-eu-has-little-effect-on-pro-independence-scots-2/">voters in both camps interpreted the message as confirming their existing policy preference</a>.</p><h2>Speaking Europe to Britain </h2><p>Intervening in the British debate is fraught with difficulty for EU actors since they are largely deprived of their most common rhetorical device, which consists of appealing to a normative commitment to European unity for the sake of continental peace. The classic statement of the genre is François Mitterrand’s slogan “nationalism is war”. Two inter-related reasons make this peace justification for European integration ring hollow to British ears. The need to build supranational political institutions to provide security fundamentally <a href="http://www.europeangeostrategy.org/2016/01/can-the-british-pro-european-cause-be-salvaged/">contradicts the twentieth-century island story of pluck and Anglo-American partnership in the face of German militarism</a>. Successive UK governments have responded by explicitly approaching European integration as a purely pragmatic and utilitarian foreign policy. James Callaghan, who as foreign secretary oversaw the renegotiation of Britain’s terms of membership in 1974-75, encapsulated this logic by referring to the EEC as a “business arrangement”. <a href="http://www.policy-network.net/pno_detail.aspx?ID=4998&amp;title=Britain+no+longer+part+of+%E2%80%98ever-closer%E2%80%99+union%3f+">David Cameron’s attempt to do away with Britain’s treaty commitment to “ever closer union”</a> is just the latest manifestation of this tendency. </p><p>Consequently, those seeking to speak on behalf of Europe are obliged to engage in cost/benefit argumentation. This means they engage in a debate on what can be dubbed the ‘performative legitimacy’ of the EU, or what the political scientist Fritz Scharpf refers to as legitimising through outputs. In this register what matters is whether the EU has the right policies and executes them well rather than any broader justificatory claims for the very existence of a supranational political entity. </p><p>Entering the British referendum debate by lavishing praise – in the midst of the migration crisis, the furore over press freedom in Poland, and the rumbling on of the Eurozone debt crisis – on the EU’s current policy performance is clearly a fool’s errand. Public intellectuals across the continent and beyond have spent the past few years savaging the EU’s handling of the debt crisis in Greece and elsewhere. Attacks on Eurozone policy-makers by Yanis Varoufakis and Paul Krugman found a receptive audience in Britain, especially on the left amongst media figures such as Paul Mason and Owen Jones (<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/07/labour-tory-chaos-david-cameron-divided-europe">the latter recently recanted his support for Brexit</a>).</p><p>Hence the battleground for the bean-counting analysis of the costs and benefits of EU membership has shifted from current benefits to the realm of hypotheticals and counterfactuals. One such hypothetical, as articulated by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a direct reference to the UK referendum in <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-15-5614_en.htm">his 2015 state of the union speech</a>, is the ability to push forward greater economic integration in the digital arena and get a path-breaking free trade deal with the US. By extension, the counter-factual argument is that these advantages, especially the ability to shape market rules globally as well as in Europe, would not be on offer if the UK was outside the EU club. This matches exactly the advice given by a European leader who knows what it means to be on the outside looking in. Norwegian premier Vidar Helgesen has warned that <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/vidar-helgesen/brexit-norwegian-view">being semi-detached from the EU would not sit comfortably with Britain’s global political and economic interests</a>. </p><h2>Speaking Brexit in Europe</h2><p>This counter-factual reasoning is to be expected: both camps in the UK referendum campaign seek to score points on the basis of what the country’s economic prospects would look like outside the EU. What is more surprising is that European leaders have offered only a benign view of the EU’s position in the event of Brexit. History would suggest that France play a leading role in laying down markers of the difficulties Britain, with its large EU trade deficit, could face when trying to renegotiate access to the single market. After all, French presidents have a track record in determining the UK’s European fate: Charles de Gaulle twice vetoed the UK’s application to join the European Economic Community in the 1960s, while his successor, Georges Pompidou, insisted on holding a national referendum to settle the matter of enlarging the community. So in 1972 it was French citizens who had the final say on approving Britain’s admission to the club – <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_European_Economic_Community_enlargement_referendum,_1972">they voted 68% in favour</a>. </p><p>On a strategic level, UK withdrawal from the EU has a number of important ramifications, many of them potentially favourable to French interests. France’s permanent UN Security Council seat could gain a new legitimacy as the voice of the EU on the international stage. The absence of a British presence in the EU’s decision-making bodies would make trade and regulation policy more protectionist, <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-poll-idUKKBN0TZ01720151216">as a recent study has shown</a>, in line with the instincts of both left and right French governments. Of course, these are not necessarily good reasons for France to break ranks and militate openly for British withdrawal. What they do constitute, however, are important bargaining chips that would play well amongst a French audience and which in turn can be instrumentalised to remind Britons of what is at stake. </p><p>Yet France is not playing this game. During the renegotiation horse-trading François Hollande, the president of France, merely warned David Cameron, the British prime minister, that unilateral concessions were off the table and demanded clarification over the topics under negotiation. The only notable pro-Brexit French outburst to date has come from former <a href="http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2014/06/05/amis-anglais-sortez-de-l-union-europeenne-mais-ne-la-faites-pas-mourir_4431399_3232.html">prime minister Michel Rocard</a>. More typical though is the position of leading newspaper <em>Le Monde</em>, which used the two-hundredth anniversary of Waterloo to publish an English-language op-ed aimed at <a href="http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2015/06/18/britain-beware-brexit-could-be-your-waterloo_4657095_3232.html">persuading UK voters to stay in the EU and avoid their own epic defeat.</a> </p><p>So instead of playing a threatening or hectoring role, David Cameron’s EU counterparts have so far intervened in the Brexit debate as deal brokers, or deal breakers, concerning the now concluded renegotiation. It is in this light that such figures have appeared most commonly in the British media. For instance, one of the most well-covered comments on British renegotiation was that of recently-elected Polish premier Beata Szydlo. No EU sycophant, she was vocal in <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/sections/uk-europe/poland-disagrees-uk-brexit-welfare-restrictions-320317">opposing Cameron’s proposals to reduce intra-EU migration by the limiting welfare entitlements</a> available to recently-arrived workers. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the ultimate arbitrator of European consensus even though her own power base is being undermined by the migration crisis, sits in the background. Her <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-call-with-angela-merkel-3-december-2015">occasional pronouncements on Brexit</a> were pored over, as if they were ancient runes, to interpret how many concessions she might approve.</p><p>Thus the UK referendum debate has so far only had a muted pan-European dimension. It is definitely not a repeat of the Greek vote on the proposed Eurozone bailout deal in July 2015. That took place in the context of a Europeanised public space in which <em>Oxi</em> (no) became a rallying call for a broad coalition of supporters of an alternative to austerity. The Greek referendum, however, looks much more like an outlier than the norm. Referendums on EU treaties in France, the Netherlands, or Ireland have all been – like the Brexit drama – rather self-centred affairs revolving around the impact of European integration on narrowly-defined national interests. Even the same treaty can spark different arguments: French voters were treated to endless argument about the implications of the EU Constitutional Treaty on socio-economic rights, while Turkish accession to the EU was a leading concern during the Dutch vote. </p><p>What probably makes the UK campaign even more solipsistic is the absence of strong pro-EU voices from within Britain. Hostility to the EU, unlike in comparable European countries, <a href="http://www.ecfr.eu/page/-/ECFR_128_BREXIT_%28March_-_final%29.pdf">is nurtured by a neo-liberal elite with influential media ties</a>. Supporters of the EU in the UK have to contend with entrenched Euroscepticism across the print media. This querulous public discourse drowns out more neutral analysis and also inflects anti-EU sentiment by dredging up issues tangential to the membership question <em>per se</em>. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/21/cameron-brexit-eu-referendum-voters-in-campaign">As Timothy Garton Ash has argued</a>, such a situation makes it all the more important for European figures to insert a positive message about Britain’s place in the EU.</p><p>In this regard, however, the most comparable referendum experience might be the vote on Scottish independence in 2014. Businesses and public figures from the rest of the UK found it very hard to engage with the Scottish debate precisely because the meaning and value of unionism, beyond mere transactionalism, had become so impoverished. Both the unionist message and its messengers were easily dismissed as part of a negative mindset – dubbed “project fear” – incompatible with a new, self-confident Scottish exceptionalism. <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-923X.12199/abstract">When the British in/out vote is itself understood as a manifestation of political exceptionalism</a> it is obvious why outside voices find it difficult to put forward a positive vision about the UK’s European vocation. That means the Brexit vote ultimately will be won or lost on British terms.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Brexit-banner-final-140px%40x2.png" width="100%" alt="Brexit Divisions small banner" /> <div style="font-size:85%"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan/puzzle-of-eu-referendums">The puzzle of EU referendums</a><br />ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/renaud-thillaye/three-reality-checks-for-leavers-and-remainers">Three reality checks for leavers and remainers</a> RENAUD THILLAYE <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave">Why Britain will choose the safer option and Vote Leave</a> MATTHEW ELLIOTT <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/roland-rudd/winning-argument-for-staying-in-europe">Winning the argument for staying in Europe</a><br />ROLAND RUDD <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/simon-usherwood-katharine-wright/fighting-eu-referendum-online-strategies-frames-and">Fighting the EU referendum online: strategies, frames and successes</a><br />SIMON USHERWOOD<br />KATHARINE WRIGHT <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan-claudia-sternberg/brexit-divisions-what-you-ought-to-know-about-eu-">Brexit Divisions: What you ought to know about EU referendums</a><br />ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN<br />CLAUDIA STERNBERG </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/laura-cram/empathy-belonging-and-uk-eu-question">Empathy, belonging and the UK-EU question</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/kalypso-nicola-dis/letter-to-my-british-friends-for-europe-s-sake-please-stay">A letter to my British friends: for Europe’s sake, please stay</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BrexitDivisions uk Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Andrew Glencross Wed, 09 Mar 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Andrew Glencross 100263 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A letter to my British friends: for Europe’s sake, please stay https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/kalypso-nicola-dis/letter-to-my-british-friends-for-europe-s-sake-please-stay <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The EU might be dysfunctional but it is still Britain’s home. Help us fix it from the inside.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/15831997457_15ccb7fedb_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/15831997457_15ccb7fedb_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="262" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dover Castle. Harshil Shah/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)</span></span></span></p><p>Dear British friends,</p> <p>My kids and husband are British, I teach and pay taxes in this country, talk to my village neighbours everyday and love English country lanes, Scottish castles, Welsh road-signs, Cornwall’s gardens and all the bloody rest of it. As a French and Greek citizen, I won’t have a vote in this referendum and yet this is one of the most momentous decisions that will ever be taken in my name, as a European citizen living on this side of the channel. </p> <p>So, along with the two million other EU expats living here, and millions on the continent who feel passionate about Britain’s European vocation, all I can do is plead: dear British friends, please stay.</p> <p>Who are we to tell you that the EU is good for Britain, that the benefits of membership outweigh the costs, and that uncertainty is painful for the pocketbook and painful for the soul? Costs and benefits fluctuate over time and everything is uncertain in this day and age.</p> <p>But there is one thing which many of us from the rest of Europe feel very certain about: the EU would be much worse off without Britain. Yes: don’t just ask what Europe can do for you, ask what you can do for Europe.</p> <p><span class="print-no mag-quote-right">Britain is the most powerful reminder that the essence of the EU is not to be against nations but against the hegemony of a single one</span></p> <p>We need you to remain in for Europe’s sake because what is good for the EU is ultimately good for Britain. We appeal to your greater collective self, historic Britain, visionary Britain, dynamic Britain and common sense Britain. The EU project has proven very vulnerable to external shocks, whether financial, geopolitical or humanitarian, trying to survive amidst a tsunami of crisis. Britain is not in the habit of abandoning a continent in trouble. If European history has taught us anything it is that we need Britain to step in when the powers on or outside the continent make a mess of it. It remains true today.</p> <p>And we need Britain’s tradition of tolerance and ‘loyal opposition’ to continue to inspire and attract a Europe threatened by the dark side of populism – the claim that one party, one leader, one ideology can represent the one true people. To be sure, much can still be improved in the way the UK manages its own diverse society, and much can be criticised in the way it has bailed out of taking in its fair share of refugees. But we have no Orban or Kaczynski here – all is relative.</p> <p>We need you to continue to fight for a better EU from the inside, to sit around the table and make a nuisance of yourself if need be. If you leave, the EU could be captured by those who equate commitment to peaceful union with a systematic need to centralise and merge. It is unlikely that the EU would become a ‘super-state’ even if Brexit wins the day, but it will continue to be too top-down for our digital age of distributed intelligence. And European leaders may be tempted to leave aside Cameron’s agenda for reform and ease their way back into their traditional comfort zone. </p> <p>We need you to continue to be the voice of all the countries at the periphery of the EU who have been told to just follow the lead of the Franco-German engine. From Portugal to Latvia, from Poland to Denmark, from Greece to Finland, many across Europe share the British fear of being governed at a distance. Confident Britain often dares to be their champion. As for the French and the Germans they need you to balance each other. Why leave a club where you are so valued as a member?</p> <p>We need you, in short, because Britain is the most powerful reminder that the essence of the EU is not to be against nations but against the hegemony of a single one: big states of Europe, do not swallow smaller ones. Yes, the EU looks like a complicated and arcane machine. But that is because its saving grace is to play to Britain’s favour: to institutionalise balance of power in Europe.</p> <p>Please do not buy Boris Johnson’s line too easily: sure I love Europe, its museums, monuments, beaches and food, but the EU is not Europe. Would Boris prefer to visit like any old tourist rather than feeling ‘at home abroad’ anywhere in Europe? If more than two million Brits benefit from EU reciprocity rule when living on the continent, is it simply because they are ‘European’ or because they are also EU citizens with all the rights that this involves? Doesn’t Boris see that the EU, imperfect as it, is what Europeans, its leaders and a majority of its citizens – including in the UK – have chosen to be in the wake of WWII? Does he not see that the EU may be flawed and in urgent need of repair, but that it is the latest variant in the most quintessential game played in Europe since Roman times: to come up with clever post-war schemes to live together peacefully with our differences. </p> <p><span class="print-no mag-quote-left">Would Boris prefer to visit like any old tourist rather than feeling ‘at home abroad’ anywhere in Europe?</span></p> <p>Does Boris never face situations in life where the best is the enemy of the good? How can we not agree with him that there is a best EU out there in the ideal Platonic world, which truly reflects peoples’ yearning for control over their lives? A best EU which only ever passes regulations that make sense to every member state and every constituency? To be sure, many of these rules have been good for Britain, including for those who care about social fairness – consider non discrimination and gender equality. And more often than not, standards in Europe are mutually recognised (your diploma is valid in my country) rather than harmonised. But alas there are always winners and losers with every standard. An EU regulation that tries to encourage innovation to make home appliances more energy efficient in order to comply with our international commitments regarding climate change might be derided by Boris <em>et al</em> but praised by environmentalists. The former may be right that the regulation could be improved. But isn’t that a reason to stay in and improve it? If Britain were to stay in the single market under whichever one of Boris’ unclear preferred scenarios, it would keep the rules without the seat.</p> <p>Is Boris really a quitter? &nbsp;There is no doubt that the Brussels bubble needs to learn that it does not have to regulate everything and that there is such a thing as good and worthy repatriation of power to the member states. Even centralised federal systems do this under the idea of “cycles of federalism”. But it is simply not true that the European Court of Justice renders British law obsolete. It has little jurisdiction in areas like health, education or welfare, and tends to serves as a mediator between states as to whose law applies, often finding in favor of British rules on British territory. And it is not true that EU regulation is irreversible. Albeit too slowly, the so-called ‘better regulation agenda’ is currently enforced by a fierce Dutch commissioner, and new rules can include sunset clauses. One of these days, let's hope that even the infamous working time directive will be revisited. And if you ask me, I would love to see a sustainability impact assessment to ensure that we think about the long term when we pass EU directives – but we can only push the case if we sit around the table. </p> <p>What about those who say that the EU stifles innovation? To be sure science and patents are open to the world. But didn’t Airbus develop world-beating fly-by-wire avionics by bringing together four countries including the UK; didn’t the Euro-wide Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) set the global standard for mobile phones; and didn’t the flagship EU Human Brain Project produce truly breakthrough science? Sure, no-one beats California. But aren't Europeans leaders too, from clones to driverless cars to clean tech? If innovators need scale for their tests, London to Ljubljana beats London to Brighton. </p> <p><span class="print-no mag-quote-right">By your vote, you will have demonstrated that the prejudice among those in Europe who see you as little islanders with inflated pride is just that: prejudice.</span></p> <p>Do you really have to choose between the EU and the Commonwealth? The EU is not Switzerland writ large. It wants to collectively transform the world for the better. It often fails but the aspiration remains. Britain and France together are key to this ambition. The EU makes it easier for both to deal with their colonial legacies while serving as power multiplier when it comes to negotiating in the World Trade Organisation or the UN. If Britain left the EU, a weaker Europe would mean a weaker western world and less bargaining power when dealing with China or Russia. In the end, if Obama urges REMAIN on one side and Putin savours the prospect of LEAVE on the other, do you really want to go with the Kremlin against Washington because you are fed up about an EU vacuum cleaner regulation?</p> <p>For Europe’s sake, take the deal on offer. In the short term, rejoice that Britain has the best of all worlds, a single market without the Schengen zone, an EU financial hub without the euro, and after Cameron’s renegotiation the power to better protect British interests in the bits from which it is exempted. Sure there are caveats to all this, but it is telling that the concessions were painful to Britain’s EU partners. They bemoan the appearance that we have moved from the era of opt-out and exemptions, to a formal two-tier Europe. </p> <p>But should they? Is there any doubt that the EU will survive and hopefully one day thrive through coalitions of the willing and so-called enhanced cooperation among sub-groups? Is there any doubt that, in fact, this will allow us to stay together in the spirit of mutual recognition among equal European peoples, the spirit of non-domination by Brussels, Berlin or Washington, and the spirit of flexible participation? As long as we continue to strengthen the foundations of our common house, EU institutions and values, the glue among EU states and citizens will be togetherness not harmony or uniformity.</p> <p>It is a pity that Cameron’s negotiating counterparts reframed the negotiations as a way to help Britain carve a special status in the EU, for fear of reform contagion. British exceptionalism might resonate with many in Britain but often for the wrong reasons. After all, exceptionality is the most widely shared trait among nations! In truth, reforming Europe itself must remain the main reward for staying in. </p> <p>Ironically, the LEAVE campaign vehemently argues that the deal will not stick, although they would ‘<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave">love to take Europe’s promise at face value</a>.’ Should we not infer that they like this promise if they care so much about its enforcement? In the unlikely event that they are right, a UK that has voted IN always retains the right to take stock and leave. Does this option not make more sense than voting to leave pre-emptively, just in case the promise was not fulfilled? </p> <p>Make no mistake, the EU will be changed by your vote to remain. Why? Because you would have affirmed that a majority of British citizens are in to make it better. By your vote, you will have demonstrated that the prejudice among those in Europe who see you as little islanders with inflated pride is just that: prejudice. And by your vote, you will have reaffirmed the ideal of a union where we are together by choice, not banned from leaving as in the kind of federal state born with the American civil war, 150 years ago. </p> <p>The EU will be changed by your vote to remain because much of what the UK traditionally pushes for – from the single market and integration of financial services to enlargement – tends to become EU mainstream.</p> <p>The EU in fact will have to change. It will have to learn to better balance the need for common rule to manage our interdependence fairly, as the French insist, and effectively, as the German want, with the risk that ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies end up defeating the purpose for which they were initially designed. The governance of the Eurozone will need to concentrate on helping individual member states better internalise their obligations to other states rather than on creating ever more coercive enforcement mechanisms. If it does that, the UK might even step up its participation. The idea, for instance, that there will be a single but differentiated EU rule book for banks to ensure that the City will not be governed from Frankfurt could allow the UK to eventually feel secure enough to join the newly created banking union, and its precious joint depository scheme.</p> <p>Similarly, the British government may have been clumsy in its approach of what it calls benefit tourism. But who doubts that in the era of globalisation, we need to think hard about how we reconcile the principle of free movement of people with perceptions of fairness and the requirement to sustain our welfare states? As for the deal on national parliaments, let us hope that it is only the beginning of a process where advocates stop considering the European parliament, worthy as it can sometimes be, as the magic bullet that will solve Europe’s democratic woes. EU officialdom needs to re-discover the need to anchor its democratic credentials in the legitimacy of local democracy, starting indeed with national parliaments. We have reached the <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1107107180/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=6738&amp;creativeASIN=1107107180&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=opendemocra0e-21">end of the Eurocrat’s dream</a> where the EU decision making world must wake up to the challenge of true democratic demands across Europe and adapt to Europe’s political, economic and social diversity.</p> <p>Over the next few years, Britain can help shape an EU that organises itself as a multi-currency union committed to the health and sustainability of national democracies and welfare states. Without Britain, the momentum could be lost and the EU would diverge further away from British political preferences, making it an ever more difficult negotiating partner. Cameron’s claim to have negotiated a “reformed” EU is certainly over-inflated. But if his claim is about the direction of travel, wouldn’t it be a tragedy to derail the journey?</p> <p>Scores of Europeans on the continent these days would like to hug a Brit – at least virtually! – to make sure you get the message: this is your family, it may be broken, it may be dysfunctional, it may even be on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown, but it is the only one you’ve got. Sure, you have far flung cousins on the other side of the pond and the other side of the world. But these are just that, distant relatives who happen to speak your language. Hey, we all manage to speak some kind of English too on the other side of the Channel, albeit with different and funny accents. And in these funny accents, we kindly request your utmost attention to our plea. You are more at home in this infuriating EU of ours then anywhere in the world. Please stay home.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Brexit-banner-final-140px%40x2.png" width="100%" alt="Brexit Divisions small banner" /> <div style="font-size:85%"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan/puzzle-of-eu-referendums">The puzzle of EU referendums</a><br />ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/renaud-thillaye/three-reality-checks-for-leavers-and-remainers">Three reality checks for leavers and remainers</a> RENAUD THILLAYE <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave">Why Britain will choose the safer option and Vote Leave</a> MATTHEW ELLIOTT <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/roland-rudd/winning-argument-for-staying-in-europe">Winning the argument for staying in Europe</a> ROLAND RUDD <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/simon-usherwood-katharine-wright/fighting-eu-referendum-online-strategies-frames-and">Fighting the EU referendum online: strategies, frames and successes</a> SIMON USHERWOOD and KATHARINE WRIGHT <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan-claudia-sternberg/brexit-divisions-what-you-ought-to-know-about-eu-">Brexit Divisions: What you ought to know about EU referendums</a><br />ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN<br />CLAUDIA STERNBERG </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/laura-cram/empathy-belonging-and-uk-eu-question">Empathy, belonging and the UK-EU question</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/andrew-glencross/who-speaks-for-europe-uk-referendum-as-pan-european-affair">Who speaks for Europe? The UK referendum as a pan-European affair</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BrexitDivisions uk Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Kalypso Nicolaïdis Tue, 08 Mar 2016 17:43:56 +0000 Kalypso Nicolaïdis 100434 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women and the young are being left in the dark by the Brexit debate https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/josiah-mortimer/women-and-young-are-left-in-dark-by-eu-referendum-debate <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>New research suggests that the British media's coverage of the EU referendum is failing to reach groups outside of middle-aged to elderly men.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="xmsonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/o-LEAVEEU-570.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/o-LEAVEEU-570.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="262" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: Leave.EU</span></span></span></p><p class="xmsonormal">There are now less than four months to go until the EU referendum. Yet all the signs are that the hard facts of the debate are not seeping through to the public.<strong>&nbsp;</strong><span>So far the discussion has been dominated by internal party politics and personalities – where an MP backing the in or out side means a media-dominating rift in this or that party. The debate, when not focusing on individuals and spats, has largely been confined to stat-throwing on either side.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="xmsonormal">Last month Mike Berry argued <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/mike-berry/british-are-dangerously-ill-informed-about-eu-referendum">on OurBeeb</a>&nbsp;that "the public is currently hampered by an information deficit which threatens their ability to make an informed decision at the ballot box". Berry noted that the Electoral Commission <a href="https://localhost/%3Chttp/::www.electoralcommission.org.uk:__data:assets:pdf_file:0004:163282:EU-referendum-question-assessment-report.pdf%3E">recently found</a> that most voters’ “personal understanding of how the EU worked was low” and that they felt “under-informed about the EU as an institution, as well as about the arguments for and against the UK remaining a member”.&nbsp;<span>At the same time, </span><a href="http://jou.sagepub.com/content/2/3/299.short">research</a><span> has found that EU-related reporting outside of summits and elections is “relatively sparse.” The result is that the referendum becomes a Westminster parlour game – rather than the crucial constitutional matter which it is.</span></p> <p class="xmsonormal">We know that, when it comes to European referendums, political information conditions the way people vote. Those with high levels of political awareness rely more on their own informed views, rather than government assessments or partisan cues – something verified by the experience of Danish, Norwegian and Irish referendums.<span>&nbsp;</span><span>And while it is thought that referendum campaigns increase political knowledge, findings released this week have added to the growing evidence of the very low base of political awareness, even at this late stage. The&nbsp;<a href="http://electoral-reform.org.uk/press-release/low-turnout-feared-just-16-public-feel-well-informed-about-eu-referendum">polling</a>, by BMG Research, shows that only one in six people feel well informed about the upcoming EU referendum.</span></p> <p class="xmsonormal">Breaking it down, only 12 per cent of the public feel ‘well informed’, while only four per cent feel ‘very well informed’ about the June vote. &nbsp;In contrast, nearly half (46 per cent) feel poorly or very poorly informed about the vote. This falls to 38 per cent among those who say they will definitely vote in the referendum, rising to 61 per cent among those who say they probably will <em>not</em> vote. &nbsp;The disparity suggests there is a link between how much people feel they know about the referendum debate and how likely they are to vote.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="xmsonormal">Released today, on International Women’s Day, the BMG polling also shows a huge gender gap. Men are twice as likely to feel well informed than women (21% vs 10%). While there are a range of factors at play, it suggests the campaigns – and media coverage of those campaigns&nbsp;<span>–&nbsp;</span>aren’t reaching out of the Westminster bubble or targeting groups outside of middle-aged to elderly men.</p> <p class="xmsonormal">There is also a serious generational divide – more than double the number of 55-64 year olds feel well informed (21%) about the referendum compared to 18-24 year olds (10%), suggesting that young people will be less likely to vote on polling day – something that is already a serious problem in general elections but may now be exacerbated.</p> <p class="xmsonormal">The Electoral Reform Society are launching a body of work on the EU vote, ‘<a href="http://electoral-reform.org.uk/better-referendum">A Better Referendum</a>,’ in part because these findings, among other studies, highlight the need for a deeper and more informative debate around the referendum. The five main recommendations for the EU referendum campaign call for:</p> <ol><li>The Remain and Leave campaigns to commit to taking part in televised debates on the EU referendum</li><li>The campaigns to make voter registration a key plank of their plans </li><li>The campaigns to support initiatives aimed at giving citizens a chance to debate the issues in more depth, for example by providing speakers for local debates</li><li>The campaigns to commit to a ‘Ceasefire Week’, where both sides only put out the <em>positive </em>cases for their arguments</li><li>Media organisations, relevant public bodies and non-governmental organisations to commit to providing balanced coverage of the debate, including clear and comprehensible facts on Britain’s relationship with the EU</li></ol> <p class="xmsonormal">The mounting evidence about the worrying state of informed and deep public debate (or lack thereof) ahead of June 23rd&nbsp;should serve as a wake-up call to politicians, parties, public bodies and everyone involved in the referendum to do all they can to boost public knowledge and engagement in this crucial vote.</p> <p class="xmsonormal">During the Scottish independence referendum, we witnessed what can happen when people feel informed about an important decision and empowered to take part. People do want the full information they need to get to grips with the EU referendum debate, and for the space to have those discussions, but it is so far clearly lacking.&nbsp;<span>The campaigns have a responsibility to listen to voters and engage with them, as well as to broadcast their views. Moreover, in a close referendum, turnout will be key – so it’s in the campaigns’ interest to provide a platform for a rich and stimulating debate.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="xmsonormal">There is a clear link between how well informed people feel and their likelihood to vote. So the five recommendations set out above could – if adopted&nbsp;<span>–</span><span>&nbsp;help open up a real conversation among the public about the issues surrounding Britain’s membership of the European Union.</span></p><p>This will require commitment from media organisations and others to put forward both sides of the debate - in clear and understandable ways. But it will also require getting across the wide&nbsp;range&nbsp;of sides within the camps themselves – after all, the ballot paper may only have ‘Remain/Leave’, but there are a world of perspectives within each campaign.&nbsp;<span>Over and above their legal obligations for impartiality, broadcasters and outlets - in particular public service broadcasters like the BBC - have a duty to emphasise the issues over the parlour games. And time is not on our side - they need to get this across in the few short months available.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span></span><span>Now let’s&nbsp;</span><span>take the conversation beyond Westminster and Fleet Street to town halls and communities across the UK.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourbeeb/mike-berry/british-are-dangerously-ill-informed-about-eu-referendum">The British are dangerously ill-informed about the EU referendum</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> OurBeeb OurBeeb uk BrexitChasm Brexit2016 Brexit and the BBC Josiah Mortimer Tue, 08 Mar 2016 14:04:24 +0000 Josiah Mortimer 100424 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Winning the argument for staying in Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/roland-rudd/winning-argument-for-staying-in-europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Those arguing against Brexit will never win by wearing rose-colored glasses. At the same time, those campaigning to leave are hamstrung by an inability to agree on what 'leave' means.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/15571080188_b50ae4cc36_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/15571080188_b50ae4cc36_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="287" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Moyan Brenn/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by)</span></span></span></p><p>The choice facing the British public is the biggest in a generation: do we choose to be stronger, with an economy that creates new opportunities and has the power to shape the future, or do we choose to be weaker, less able to influence global developments that risk harming our economy and compromising our safety? It is clear to me that the UK is stronger, safer and better off in Europe than we would be out on our own, and we need to make a positive patriotic case for Britain being stronger by staying in. To make that case, the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign has brought together a <a href="https://next.ft.com/content/184d7820-70aa-11e5-9b9e-690fdae72044">coalition of powerful advocates</a>, from business leaders such as Karren Brady to security experts such as Peter Wall, the former head of the British Army. We now need to win the argument across the nation. </p> <p>The current polls <a href="http://whatukthinks.org/eu/opinion-polls/poll-of-polls/">vary widely</a> so no one should underestimate the potential for Britain to choose to leave. Most polls put the <a href="http://www.cityam.com/234954/what-kind-of-eu-referendum-voter-are-you-these-seven-groups-will-decide-britains-future-in-europe">number of undecided voters</a> at a fifth of the electorate. With a decision as vital to Britain’s future as this one we cannot be complacent about the campaign and we must ensure we communicate our case with messages that resonate with the British public. You can have a compelling case on paper but if you don’t get the messages right you are unlikely to persuade people to back you. </p> <p>The case should be built on foundations of realism and pragmatism. No one should overlook the EU’s faults and no one should say it is perfect. However, being in Europe is better for Britain’s economy and influence and will remain so in the future. We must make clear that Britain has the best of both worlds at the moment – out of Schengen and the eurozone, trading with Europe while building prosperous trading relationships with the rest of the world and shaping Europe in our image. We now have a European Commission that, in its vision for Europe, is the closest to what Britain wants: a reform-minded, open Europe committed to free trade. It would be ironic if we chose to leave at a time when the EU is being reformed to make it work better for Britain. </p> <p>When presenting our case, we can’t ignore the reality that the actual question on the ballot paper is not always the same as the question in voters’ minds. How the referendum is framed is crucial. The SNP nearly succeeded in making the 2014 referendum a vote of no confidence in Westminster. The ‘no to AV’ campaign did succeed in making the 2011 referendum all about coalitions, perceptions of backroom deals and Nick Clegg. This referendum is too important to Britain’s future prosperity to be used as a means of kicking the so-called political elite, the government of the day or to be simply seen as a chance to cast a vote on the renegotiation. Supporters of Britain remaining in Europe must work hard to frame this debate about what really matters: will Britain be more or less prosperous and more or less secure by staying or leaving? </p> <p>The British public are being bombarded by competing visions of Europe, many of which are often unjustifiably negative. Stories on migration, EU rules, decision making and sovereignty aren’t always based on fact and we need to be resolute in challenging assertions where they are plainly wrong. For example, Brexit campaigners were caught out claiming that Britain sends £350 million a week to Brussels. This has been discredited. That doesn’t take account of the rebate or what the UK gets back through funding for research and development, investment in apprenticeships and jobs, support for British farmers, our creative industries and more. Taking this into account our net contribution is less than half the figure used by Brexit campaigners and amounts to £263 per household per year, or 30 pence per person per day. If you decide that is too high a price to pay then that is a decision you take but it should always be based on fact.</p> <p><strong>Britain’s average net contribution to the EU is £7.1 billion</strong></p> <table> <tbody><tr> <td width="150" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><strong>£ million</strong></td> <td width="62" align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><strong>2010</strong></td> <td width="62" align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><strong>2011</strong></td> <td width="62" align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><strong>2012</strong></td> <td width="62" align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><strong>2013</strong></td> <td width="62" align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><strong>2014</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">UK gross contribution before rebate</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">15,625</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">15,116</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">16,203</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">18,166</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">16,247</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">UK rebate</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">-3,055</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">-3,120</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">-3,084</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">-3,676</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">-4,894</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">UK receipts</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">-5,784</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">-5,701</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">-5,623</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">-5,355</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">-5,635</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">UK net contribution</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">6,786</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">6,295</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">7,496</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">9,135</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">5,718</td> </tr> <tr style="font-size: 90%;"> <td style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">&nbsp;</td> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/221513/eu_finances_2012.pdf"><em>source</em></a></td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/259692/EU_Finances_2013.pdf"><em>source</em></a></td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/388882/EU_finances_2014_final.pdf#page=37"><em>source</em></a></td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/483344/EU_finances_2015_final_web_09122015.pdf"><em>source</em></a></td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/421061/average310315-1.csv/preview"><em>source</em></a> ; <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/budget/financialreport/2014/foreword/index_en.html"><em>source</em></a></td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="6" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><strong>Average £7.1 billion</strong></td></tr></tbody></table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>This amounts to 30p per person per day</strong></p> <table> <tbody><tr> <td align="center" width="200" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><strong>Net Contribution (million)</strong></td> <td align="center" width="80" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><strong>£7100</strong></td> <td style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><strong>Source </strong></td></tr> <tr> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">Population (million)</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">65.14</td> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><span style="font-size: 90%;">ONS National Population Projections</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">No of Households (million)</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">26.99</td> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"><span style="font-size: 90%;">ONS Families and Households, 2015</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">Net contribution per household</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">£263</td> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"> </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">Net contribution per person per day</td> <td align="center" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;">£0.30</td> <td align="left" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd;"> </td> </tr> </tbody></table> <p>Of course, the campaign, in addition to loudly and clearly making that positive case, needs to make clear the significant risks of leaving. In any choice between two options it’s important to consider both in turn. But we can’t base our campaign on highlighting the obvious risks nor simply rebutting the leave campaigners’ case. We need a case backed up by evidence and facts for remaining part of Europe that is positive, patriotic, and future-oriented, and that is directly relevant to British families, businesses and individuals. </p> <p>As campaigners supporting Britain’s continuing membership, our role is to cut through with a case that resonates with the British public. It is not just important for British business for us to remain in, it is also important for consumers. We must demonstrate how the single market is relevant to people’s lives. EasyJet’s CEO Carolyn McCall is right when she makes the <a href="http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/article1668160.ece?CMP=OTH-gnws-standard-2016_02_14">compelling case</a> that it was the EU that gave airlines the freedom to fly and compete without barriers across Europe, which resulted in a dramatic fall in fares – around a 40% cut – and the number of routes increasing by 180%. British consumers will benefit from the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/eu-holiday-boost-to-british-tourists-cheaper-holiday-calls-and-tougher-consumer-protection">scrapping of roaming charges</a>, which will save Brits travelling abroad 73p for every pound they used to spend on their mobiles abroad. </p> <p>We shouldn’t just focus on the economic benefits. We must make the case about how being in Europe makes Britain safer. Many of the threats to Britain’s security are global in nature, like terrorism, the aggression of Russia and cross-border crime. Whether it is implementing sanctions against Russia, sharing intelligence about terrorist suspects or arresting and deporting criminals using the European Arrest Warrant: being in Europe makes us safer. It is because we are positive about Britain that we want the UK to retain its influence on the world stage.</p> <p>The prime minister’s renegotiation is an important step forward in Britain’s relationship with the EU. It gives us the best of both worlds: the benefits of economic partnership with increased control over areas such as our economy and immigration policy. But the choice at this referendum isn’t a verdict on the outcome of that renegotiation; it should be seen as a choice about Britain’s future. </p> <p>We must acknowledge that there are <a href="https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3691/Economist-Ipsos-MORI-January-2016-Issues-index.aspx">concerns over the scale of immigration</a> but we mustn’t deceive the British public into thinking there is a simple solution. Leaving the EU will not stop freedom of movement, unless we also give up access to the world’s largest free trade zone. European countries that have preferential access to the EU’s single market, like Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, have <a href="http://openeurope.org.uk/intelligence/immigration-and-justice/norway-and-switzerland/">higher rates of immigration</a> than the UK.</p> <p>There are two main challenges for the leave campaigns, which represent opportunities for Stronger In: there is no settled view on what ‘out’ actually looks like. Like Alex Salmond’s inability to provide certainty over which currency Scotland would use on independence, leave campaigners face a huge challenge to convince undecided voters&nbsp;that a Brexit wouldn’t be a leap into the dark. There are around half a dozen <a href="http://www.cliffordchance.com/briefings/2014/04/a_legal_assessmentoftheuksrelationshipwit.html">models</a> the UK could settle on if it did leave the EU and not a single one does what the leave campaigns are arguing for. Even worse, they would all cost the UK dearly and none would provide the strength that the UK currently enjoys. If I were considering a vote to leave, the inability to answer this question would worry me considerably. </p> <p>Secondly, there are huge divisions between the rival leave campaigns. This is not just a cosmetic fight over who is in charge. It is borne of the first challenge: competing visions over why Britain should leave and what its future would look like. They cannot agree on a vision for how Britain prospers outside Europe because, quite simply, there isn’t one that is preferable to being inside Europe with our unique relationship.</p> <p>Campaigners fighting for Britain to remain in Europe are united in our core optimistic vision: in the years to come the UK will be stronger, safer and better off in Europe than it would be out on its own. By remaining in Europe, we will enjoy greater prosperity, more security and a stronger leading role in the world than if we chose a leap into the dark.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Brexit-banner-final-140px%40x2.png" alt="Brexit Divisions small banner" width="100%" /></p> <div> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/simon-usherwood-katharine-wright/fighting-eu-referendum-online-strategies-frames-and">Fighting the EU referendum online: strategies, frames and successes</a> SIMON USHERWOOD and KATHARINE WRIGHT <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan-claudia-sternberg/brexit-divisions-what-you-ought-to-know-about-eu-">Brexit Divisions: What you ought to know about EU referendums</a><br />ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN<br />CLAUDIA STERNBERG </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave">Why Britain will choose the safer option and Vote Leave</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/renaud-thillaye/three-reality-checks-for-leavers-and-remainers">Three reality checks for leavers and remainers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan/puzzle-of-eu-referendums">The puzzle of EU referendums</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BrexitDivisions Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Roland Rudd Tue, 08 Mar 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Roland Rudd 100407 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why Britain will choose the safer option and Vote Leave https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The need for ‘one size fits all’ regulations to cover all of Europe makes it impossible for the EU to pursue the best interests of all its members.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/GettyImages-513707656.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/GettyImages-513707656.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Vote leave badges. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In less than four months’ time, the British people will make the most historic political decision of a generation. The choice we face is clear. A vote to stay in will mean a permanent loss of control to Brussels and confirm the supremacy of EU law forever. A vote to leave returns control to the British people, giving us the power to make our own laws and hold the people who make them to account. We take back the power to set our own policies on trade, migration and human rights, and the power to spend our own money on our own priorities.</p> <p>There are three key reasons why I think the British people will choose the safer option and vote to leave. Firstly, as long as the UK remains a member of the EU, we lack the power to decide who makes our laws or to sign our own free trade deals with our friends and partners around the world. This undermines both our democracy and our economy. Secondly, the EU’s control of our borders prevents us from adopting a humane and non-discriminatory immigration policy, which forces us to turn away some of the best talent from around the world whilst taking away our power to keep dangerous criminals out. Finally, the abject failure of Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation with EU leaders in February blows apart the myth once and for all that it is possible to achieve any meaningful reform of the EU from within.</p> <h2>A vote to leave takes back control and stops the EU undermining our democracy and our economy</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/GettyImages-476076940.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/GettyImages-476076940.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UKIP supporters applaud during a speech. Rob Stothard/Getty Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>All across the UK, people have seen how we have lost control over so many areas of key national importance. Whether it is our trade, our borders, or who actually makes our laws, voters recognise that we have lost the power to make decisions on any of these matters ourselves, and that there is no way to get this back unless we vote to leave.</span></p> <p>Those backing the in-at-all-costs campaign like to talk about the ‘influence’ Britain has in the EU, but this is nothing more than an illusion. We have tried to stop damaging laws coming from Brussels 72 times, and been voted down every single time. Eurozone countries now have a permanent qualified majority on the Council of Ministers, so we have no way of protecting ourselves from harmful laws as the EU resorts to increasingly desperate measures to attempt to stave off some of the damage inflicted by the failings of its ideologically-driven monetary union.</p> <p>We have been forced to give up our seat on key international bodies like the World Trade Organisation and have had our global voice greatly diminished as a result. Instead of being able to negotiate our own free trade deals to suit the unique strengths of the British economy, we are forced to accept one-size-fits-all compromises cobbled together after long delays by EU negotiators. Far from being an advantage, the vast size of the EU is actually a major hindrance to the EU being able to secure the best deals.</p> <p>It is no coincidence that the cumbersome EU has failed to secure free trade deals with many of the world’s major emerging economies – including India, China and Brazil – while Switzerland and Iceland, negotiating on their own behalf, have secured free trade deals with China with a minimum of fuss. Even when the EU does finally manage to scrape together a patchwork agreement, it will inevitably be a poor compromise which won’t be the best deal for any of its members. It is inconceivable that the one single agreement forced on the whole EU can genuinely represent the best deal for economies as diverse as Germany and Greece, or Britain and Bulgaria.</p> <h2>The EU costs too much and forces us to unfairly discriminate over who can come to Britain, making us less safe and worse off</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/GettyImages-476075280.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/GettyImages-476075280.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UKIP supporter waits for talks to begin. Rob Stothard/Getty Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>One of voters’ biggest concerns is unrestricted migration from the EU. Thanks to our membership of the EU, we have lost control over our borders, and lost our ability to set a rational and humane immigration policy for ourselves. We are left increasingly out of step with the internationalised, globalised world, as the strain placed on our public services by unrestricted EU migration forces us to discriminate against the best and brightest talent from the rest of the world.</span></p> <p>After we leave, we will take back the power to set a coherent and non-discriminatory immigration policy, suited to our place at the heart of the globalised and decentralised world economy of today. We will no longer have to turn away highly skilled workers and wealth creators from the wider world, providing a long-term boost to the strength of our economy. Furthermore, we will no longer be frustrated by the European courts in our attempts to deport dangerous criminals, whilst preventing those already convicted of crimes elsewhere from entering our country in the first place.</p> <p>Another major concern for voters is the huge cost of the EU. It is no surprise that British voters are deeply concerned about the £350 million we are sending a week to Brussels, money which could be much better spent on our own priorities like the NHS, education, and medical research. The EU loses billions of pounds a year to corruption and waste, with the EU’s own auditors having failed to give its accounts a clean bill of health for two decades running.</p> <p>Four decades on from when we first joined, our total contributions to the EU recently topped a staggering £500 billion. We know that this doesn’t represent anything like value for money for the British people, before even considering the indirect costs of EU regulation on top of this. The top 100 most costly EU regulations alone cost British businesses £33.3 billion a year. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are the lifeblood of the British economy, overwhelmingly feel that the costs of complying with single market regulations greatly outweigh the benefits of remaining in the EU.</p> <h2>The failure of Cameron’s renegotiation proves that the EU is fundamentally unreformable from within</h2><p>When we look back on the biggest turning points of the campaign, perhaps the biggest will be the day in February when David Cameron came home from Brussels, having asked for almost nothing, and yet somehow managing to return with even less than that. The prime minister used to talk about “fundamental, far-reaching change” in our relationship with the EU. Instead, we saw Eurocrats and our own politicians desperately trying to play up manufactured rows about utterly trivial changes to technicalities on migrant benefits and empty declarations which can be ripped up by EU judges the day after the referendum.</p> <p>Other EU leaders have made it clear what they thought Cameron actually got. Chancellor Merkel <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35620705">was confident</a> that she “[didn’t] think we gave the UK too much”. President Hollande was even less charitable <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/54fc294a-d768-11e5-8887-98e7feb46f27.html#axzz41rLY7YCK">when he said</a> “just because it lasted a long time, does not mean much happened… [there is] no exception to the rules of the single market, no right to veto EU rules and no treaty change”. He was more than happy to <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3457549/Fury-Cameron-says-idea-UK-sovereign-outside-EU-illusion.html">confirm that</a> “there is not a planned revision of the treaties and no right of veto with regards to the eurozone”.</p> <p>This has finally put to bed the notion that it is possible to achieve any sort of meaningful reform of the EU from within. Eight out of 10 of the so-called reforms secured by the prime minister were simply restatements of the status quo. The agreement reaffirms the supremacy of the unelected and unaccountable European Commission and European Court of Justice, and does precisely nothing to address the deep-rooted problems of the EU that are making life worse for ordinary people across the continent.</p> <p>The prime minister famously promised to deliver “full-on treaty change” before the referendum. He has completely gone back on this promise and left British voters with a deal that has no more legal weight than an unsigned contract. The former Director General of the EU Council’s legal service, Jean-Claude Piris, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/11893572/Britains-EU-renegotiation-has-stalled-Cameron-told.html">said</a> there is “no possibility to make a promise that would be legally binding to change the treaty later”. Michael Gove, the UK Justice Minister, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35646004">was clear</a> that “the facts are that the European Court of Justice is not bound by this agreement until treaties are changed… the whole point about the European Court of Justice is that it stands above the nation states.”</p> <p>The deal can be ripped up by EU politicians and judges the moment the referendum is over. The European Parliament will not be taking a vote on whether to approve the deal until after the referendum, while the European Court of Justice will also be free to tear up the agreement at the first opportunity. A range of pro-EU politicians have been wheeled out to try to convince the British people of the opposite, but history is replete with stark warnings for those gullible enough to believe that an EU promise carries the same weight as an EU treaty in the eyes of the ECJ.</p> <p>As much as we would love to be able to take the EU’s promises at face value, the EU has shown time and time again that it cannot be trusted to uphold agreements it makes with member states. In a move described by Cameron himself as “absolutely extraordinary”, Tony Blair gave away a large portion of the UK’s rebate from the EU in 2005 in return for an EU promise to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. A decade on and British taxpayers are over £10 billion worse off, with the EU’s promised reforms having vanished along with our money.</p> <p>The experience of Denmark provides an even starker warning, with Cameron’s claim to have secured a ‘special status’ for the UK within the EU setting alarm bells ringing from Carlisle to Copenhagen. In 1992, the Danish people were conned into thinking they had secured legally-binding reforms which granted Denmark ‘special status’ in return for signing up to the Maastricht Treaty. The ECJ has since broken this agreement with Denmark 80 times.</p> <p>The British people will not be duped into believing empty promises from the EU this time round. While the government may be confused about the legal status of the deal, the European Court of Justice certainly is not. In fact, the only uncertainty we still face over the deal is whether the ECJ will break it more times than they already broke their agreement with Denmark.</p> <h2>British voters will not be fooled by ‘project fear’</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/GettyImages-464458562.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557324/GettyImages-464458562.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A resident of Falinge Estate, Rochdale, plays to the camera. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>We have no illusions about the scale of the challenge facing us. From the giant multinationals desperate to protect their vested interests and lobbying operations in Brussels to the government machine which has already been gearing up to throw its full weight behind the ‘in’ campaign, we know that there will be a vast array of establishment voices lined up to drown out those fighting for the best interests of ordinary British people.</span></p> <p>And we know what tactic they will use, because they have only got one to fall back on: ‘project fear’. Those who want to stay in at all costs can’t make the positive case for staying in the EU because they know that the EU is damaging British business, restricting British trade, and holding back British growth. They know that the EU has created record youth unemployment in many of its member states, contributed to the rise of political extremism not seen in Europe since the 1930s, and is structurally unable to respond effectively to the range of geopolitical crises it now faces. They know that the safer option is for the British people to take back control and vote leave.</p> <p>The ‘in’ campaign’s scaremongering has already started in earnest, but they have made clear that they do not even believe the scare stories themselves. Cameron has repeatedly stated that Britain would continue to prosper outside the EU, and Lord Rose, leader of the EU-funded BSE campaign, was even of the view that “nothing is going to happen if we come out... there will be absolutely no change … It’s not going to be a step change or somebody’s going to turn the lights out.”</p> <p>The fact that they still persist with their doom-mongering in spite of this ultimately betrays the ‘in’ campaign’s lack of respect for British voters. They are not prepared to have a rational and reasoned debate on the issues which actually matter to voters about the EU, like the fact that we send £19 billion a year to the EU and have no say on how it is spent, or the fact that we have no choice but to accept the supremacy of EU laws made by unelected bureaucrats and judges who we cannot hold accountable for their decisions.</p> <p>However, while it is disappointing, it is not at all surprising: we heard exactly the same arguments being wheeled out by more or less exactly the same people when they told us that the British economy would collapse if we did not join the euro. If we had listened to them then, we would have been sucked into one of the worst economic catastrophes of modern history. British voters will not be fooled into thinking these prophecies of doom have any more validity today – they were wrong then and they are wrong now.</p> <p>The British people have been presented with a historic opportunity to take back control, restore our democracy, and return us to being a truly global and outward-looking nation. I am confident we will not waste it.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Brexit-banner-final-140px%40x2.png" width="100%" alt="Brexit Divisions small banner" /> <div style="font-size:85%"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan/puzzle-of-eu-referendums">The puzzle of EU referendums</a><br /> ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/renaud-thillaye/three-reality-checks-for-leavers-and-remainers">Three reality checks for leavers and remainers</a> RENAUD THILLAYE <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave">Why Britain will choose the safer option and Vote Leave</a> MATTHEW ELLIOTT <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan-claudia-sternberg/brexit-divisions-what-you-ought-to-know-about-eu-">Brexit Divisions: What you ought to know about EU referendums and the UK debate</a><br />ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN<br />CLAUDIA STERNBERG </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/roland-rudd/winning-argument-for-staying-in-europe">Winning the argument for staying in Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/simon-usherwood-katharine-wright/fighting-eu-referendum-online-strategies-frames-and">Fighting the EU referendum online: strategies, frames and successes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BrexitDivisions Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Matthew Elliott Tue, 08 Mar 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Matthew Elliott 100334 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The problem of sovereignty in the EU referendum https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/gerry-hassan/problem-of-sovereignty-in-eu-referendum <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="margin-bottom: 0cm;">Politicians have a habit of throwing the concept of sovereignty around when it suits them...</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/the english constitution.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/the english constitution.jpg" alt="" title="" width="325" height="499" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>After years of second guesses and a rising tide of Europhobia and scare stories, finally the UK faces the certainty of a vote on June 23rd on whether or not it remains a member of the European Union. This will be a debate about so much – about how people see Britain and its future, the English question, and the distinctiveness and autonomy of Scotland – all illustrating the absence of any uniform national British politics.</p><p>The referendum will be dominated by concerns about the economy, immigration, security, and the UK’s role and influence in the world. It will also be about competing understandings of ‘sovereignty’ – with several different Tory perspectives, along with Labour, Lib Dems, UKIP, Scottish Nationalist and Green views. There will be similarities in language and tone to the indyref. Some of the same clichés will be invoked to breaking point, ‘Project Fear’ has been dusted down, and the trading and counter-trading of alleged pseudo-facts begun. </p><p>Most people most of the time do not go round thinking of how ‘sovereignty’ impacts on themselves and their family. Instead, it is an abstract, something remote and ill-defined, and a concept open to many different interpretations – whose practical application is unclear.</p> <p>The referendum will see the regular invoking of ‘parliamentary sovereignty’. David Cameron has already promised a parliamentary act supposedly making clear that the British parliament and laws are superior to European law. Cameron last week talked in the Commons of ‘the illusion of sovereignty’ if the UK left the European Union – meaning that it would have the appearance of more sovereignty, but in reality have less. This drew the ire of Tory Eurosceptic Bill Cash, who demanded that the Prime Minister clarify these remarks. </p> <p>Tory Boris Johnson, when backing EU withdrawal, acknowledged the ‘excellent’ bill the government was bringing forward to ‘assert the sovereignty of parliament’, but contended that it was not enough and ‘cannot stop the machine’ and ‘rachet’ of greater European integration (<em>Daily Telegraph</em>, February 22nd 2016). Michael Gove’s 1,500 word document supporting exit stated, ‘I believe that the decisions which govern all our lives, the laws we must all obey and the taxes we must all pay should be decided by people we choose and who we can throw out if we want change’ (<em>New Statesman</em>, February 20th 2016).</p> <p>The competing idea of popular sovereignty has deep roots in the Scottish political tradition, and has most found expression in the American and French revolutions. Popular sovereignty has come to denote that the idea of political authority in Scotland emanates from a different source to that of the English idea of parliamentary sovereignty, but after that it all becomes much more hazy. </p> <p>It is not an accident that Bagehot’s much cited book is called ‘The English Constitution’ and A.V. Dicey consistently talked about England – which was not an accident considering he examined the perils of Irish home rule and nuances of Scotland’s place in the union. This is a subject as old as the union – namely when the English and Scottish parliaments subsumed themselves in the British parliament of 1707 – why it is assumed by the Bagehot’s and Dicey’s that the Scottish parliament and its traditions was abolished, but the English parliament, and ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ retained? </p> <p>‘Parliamentary sovereignty’ is a myth and folklore today – one which has become increasingly obsolete in an age of interdependence and globalisation, but also, as Eurosceptics never cease to remind us, in the world of the European Union. It isn’t just right-wing Bill Cash types who object to this, but historically, a deep strand of the British left, made up of the likes of Michael Foot and Tony Benn, who have bought into the idea of the mandate and ‘socialism in one country’. This is a view which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and John McDonnell, sympathise with, but know they cannot explicitly state in the campaign.</p> <p>‘Popular sovereignty’ is an even more vague concept with little clarity regarding any practical manifestations. Neither the American or French constitutions that sprang from their respective revolutions, despite all the enlightening language, actually created any practice of popular sovereignty. Neither has Scotland – for all the romantic symbolism of the MacCormick v. Cooper verdict of 1953 and ‘A Claim of Right for Scotland’ in the 1980s. </p> <p>Seldom explored is that sovereignty is an inherently problematic concept. This began as an absolute, all or nothing concept, whereby power and authority of rulers emanated from God, and was expressed in the divine right of kings. This then evolved to being held by political leaders who became accountable through parliaments and the views of the public.</p> <p>Yet sovereignty still has a sense of omnipotence in it, from the notion of the all-powerful parliament and mandate, to the idea of it as absolute and undiluted at the level of the nation-state. Many Eurosceptics believe that it is indivisible, and that you either have it in a pure sense or don’t – similar to being pregnant or not pregnant. Nowhere in this is the notion of pooled, shared, messy, fluid and multinational sovereignty allowed for; that is the reality of much of modern life, the 700 international treaties the UK is signatory to, or the dozens of supranational bodies it is a member of. Indeed, the ‘idea’ of the UK itself, a union state and state of four nations and not itself a nation, is one of ‘pooled’ sovereignty but one that many British parliamentarians seem to forget about as the rail against Brussels rule.</p> <p>This can be taken to a ridiculous extent by the likes of Dicey when he said that parliamentary sovereignty meant that it was possible to undo any act or law, including that which had created dominion status of the likes of Ireland and other former colonies. He made the case that the British parliament had the power to repeal such a bill and cancel the process of greater self-government and independence from the UK which it had agreed to. This was an argument of ‘Stop the World I want the British Empire to remain at its peak’.</p> <p>The next four months will see a lot of guff pronounced like that. Already former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson has broached Dicey territory by commenting that Brexit might lead to Ireland considering it had ‘made a mistake’ and seeking to enter back into union with the UK (<em>newstalk.com</em>, February 25th 2016). Jeremy Cliffe, who writes the ‘Bagehot’ column for ‘The Economist’ engaged in a kind of ‘Dad’s Army’ nostalgia for a Britain leading Europe when he wrote, ‘The EU is Britain’s to run’, clearly not paying sufficient attention to the UK’s awkward partner role of the last forty years (<em>The Economist</em>, February 21st 2016).</p> <p>The hyperbole of Britain as the ‘fifth richest economy in the world’, its global role and influence, soft power, and military prowess, will be to the fore, as will the memory and lore of Empire. Boris Johnson, celebrating British self-government and ingenuity, invoked this past to show that we could stand on our own two feet: ‘We used to run the biggest Empire the world has ever seen, and with a much smaller domestic population and a relatively tiny civil service’ (<em>Daily Telegraph</em>, February 22nd 2016).</p> <p>British exceptionalism will be celebrated: the idea that the UK is this blessed, unique creation whose ‘golden thread’ of liberty dates back to Magna Carta. The problem with such language is two-fold: first, yet again it invokes an English political tradition as British, and second, Magna Carta is as toothless and irrelevant as the terms of the Treaties of Union of 1707 in stopping restrictions of civil liberties and the intrusiveness of the state – witnessed this week by the UK Government’s unveiling of their latest version of the snooper’s charter.</p> <p>There is political duplicity at every level. When the UK joined the then European Economic Community in 1973, the country’s political leaders assured the public that this was merely an ‘economic union’ and that nothing else would change. They assured voters that the UK would go on being an independent self-governing nation, and this was merely a change to our trading relationships. None of this was true.</p> <p>Equally deceptive was the idea that the use of the referendum would not change British politics and democracy. First used by the Heath government in 1973 for a Northern Ireland ‘border’ poll, it was embraced by Harold Wilson’s Labour government to mask the bitter divisions in his party, after being suggested by Tony Benn.</p> <p>The 1975 referendum on Europe was a milestone for the UK. Then like today the ruling party was seriously divided. The Prime Minister of the time suspended collective cabinet responsibility and allowed ministers to disagree with each other. Then as now the weight of the British political establishment, business elites and the City of London, were all uniformedly for the UK maintaining membership. </p> <p>Harold Wilson weaved his way through the referendum in a way which today David Cameron could only dream of. However, rereading some of the debates of forty-one years ago, one repeated characteristic is the constant need of the political classes to pretend that nothing was being changed. </p> <p>In the first parliamentary sitting after the 1975 vote, Wilson was asked by Tory backbencher John Eden, ‘Will the Prime Minister keep to his determination not to repeat the constitutional experiment of the referendum?’ Wilson replied, ‘I can certainly give the Right Honourable member the assurance he seeks’ (<em>Hansard</em>, June 9th 1975). </p> <p>The Britain of Bagehot and Dicey was slowly being weakened by the historic entry of the UK into the European club in 1973 and then by the use of a referendum two years later. All the protestations were about denying this to themselves and the people, and maintaining the artifice of a Westminster Alice in Wonderland bubble. </p> <p>Today we haven’t moved that far forward in our assumptions, with the British political classes clinging to the wreckage that Europe hasn’t really changed anything and we can have ‘consultative’ referendums whenever we like without changing anything, while invoking the arcane idea of parliamentary sovereignty. </p> <p>This is an out of date dance and deception: part of the diminishing mysticism and supposed magic inherent in the ‘invisible’ parts of the English/British constitution.&nbsp; </p><p>There is no desire to reflect that the regular use of referendums weaken parliamentary sovereignty, and indicate a shift towards at the least, a nebulous notion of the sovereignty of the people. Instead, most of the noise we will hear about ‘British sovereignty’ is actually a default for the pains of a confused ‘English sovereignty’ – and one which is increasingly problematic and intolerant – expressed in such parliamentary manoeuvrings as ‘English Votes for English Laws’ and reducing the status of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs in the UK Parliament. </p> <p>This isn’t Scotland’s chosen debate, but it profoundly touches on how public opinion and the nation see itself. Nicola Sturgeon and the Nationalists regard this as an unprecedented opportunity to place themselves ‘standing up for Scotland’s interests’, positioning themselves on the right side of majority and elite opinion, and posing their opponents as wicked Westminster and the deranged cannons of UKIP in Scotland.</p> <p>All straight stuff. However, the Euro referendum poses some stark dilemmas. Sturgeon said in London this week, in what was billed as a major address on Europe: ‘I want the UK as a whole to stay in the EU because I think that option will be better for the rest of the UK, I think it will be better for the EU, and should Scotland become independent in the future – something I believe will happen – I think it will be better for us too.’</p> <p>She went on to say, ‘If Scotland were to vote in favour of EU membership and the rest of the UK were to vote to leave – if Scotland in other words was to be outvoted – then there is a real chance that that could lead to a second referendum on Scottish independence’ (<em>The Times</em>, March 1st 2016). </p> <p>That is a scenario that might suit some of the more black and white Nationalists, but would be a recipe for confusion, argument and delay, and not one conducive to independence being a smooth, velvet divorce. There is also a contradiction in SNP approaches to independence and notions of sovereignty, on the one hand being comfortable invoking shared and pooled sovereignty in the European Union, but when it comes to Scotland, being essentialist and romanticist, and using formula like Michael Gove’s at the beginning of this essay, and ‘the people who live in Scotland are best placed to make the decisions about Scotland’, irrespective of political realities (currency union, continued role of Treasury and Bank of England).&nbsp; </p><p>The EU debate is already showing signs of threat and counter-threat exceeding the indyref. There is the spectre invoked by the UK government of the Calais Jungle having to be relocated to England, of the end of cheap travel, and of EU withdrawal lasting up to ten years and producing mayhem – when the process as laid out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty of 2007 is meant to be concluded within two years or less. Relevant to this last point is that it took less than a year for the UK to join the then EEC – signing the Accession Treaty on January 22nd 1972 and becoming a member of the union on January 1st 1973.</p> <p>The next four months will witness an awful amount of fire and rain, and invocations of ‘sovereignty’, but not much clarity. The British elites have lost control of the processes and have to pretend the exact opposite – that they can offer certainty, stability, security and prosperity if only we follow them on this and other issues. At the same time, they tell us that the world is a dark, untrustworthy place, filled with nasty rulers and terrorists, and we should trust no one, except the political class of our country. </p> <p>One constant in all this is the power of fear in uncertain times. In 1973 the UK joined Europe through fear and anxiety of being left behind as ‘the sick man of Europe’. Today that perception is no longer true with Europe stuck in economic paralysis, and fear will play a major part in whether the UK stays or exits – with the stay option having the advantage.</p> <p>It is a confused message, only matched by the even more contradictory different messages of the multiple Leave campaigns. Expect over the next few months to hear the word sovereignty thousands of times as politicians on both sides try to pretend that they can offer neat, tidy solutions and that the future will be simple and painless, if only we agree and vote with them. It won’t, and wouldn’t it be great if, after all the falsehoods and scaremongering, some prominent politicians acknowledged that much of this debate was about the perennial issue of ‘who speaks and stands for England?’ and what that means. If only the political class could admit that, in the face of unprecedented and multiple challenges, there was much that they didn’t know – and that in such a world, uncertainty, doubt and unpredictability are the only things we can really be certain of, that would be a moment worthy of all the rhetoric and hype.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan/puzzle-of-eu-referendums">The puzzle of EU referendums</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Gerry Hassan Mon, 07 Mar 2016 10:42:25 +0000 Gerry Hassan 100364 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Three reality checks for leavers and remainers https://www.opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/renaud-thillaye/three-reality-checks-for-leavers-and-remainers <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Both camps must understand there is a difference between Europe and EU institutions if they are to mount effective referendum campaigns.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557950/7892308660_b0ca4a4ddd_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557950/7892308660_b0ca4a4ddd_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Europe. Charles Clegg/ Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Ahead of Britain’s in/out referendum, there is much to ponder about looking at past referendum episodes and dissecting ongoing public ambivalence vis-à-vis the EU. The history of European integration has been a bumpy and risky journey but, deep down, Europeans have never really stopped questioning the EU’s existence. Since the EU is not a state supported by a constituting </span><em>demos</em><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> – it never had its ‘we, the people’ moment – it has only survived by being given the benefit of the doubt. Still, the EU has proven very resilient. French and Dutch voters may have voted down the constitutional treaty in 2005, and the Greeks may have recently experienced the irony of sending a resounding ‘no’ to Brussels – but the EU continues to stand on its feet, even in the current “</span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-bargain-analysis-idUSKCN0V908M">polycrisis</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">”, to use Jean-Claude Juncker’s words.</span></p> <p>Three important lessons can be drawn from the intrinsically fragile yet enduring character of the EU, which campaigners from both sides need to integrate into their campaign narratives.</p> <h2>On balance…</h2> <p>First, <em>relative</em> national interest trumps everything. It would be foolish to campaign on the premise that the EU is either a nirvana or an absolute nightmare and, to be fair, no one apart from the most radical Leavers is set to do so. The electorate might not like the EU but they understand the logic of <em>net</em> benefits or deficits. They reason ‘on balance’. As found out by <a href="https://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/social-issues/new-poll-has-no-easy-answers-labour-trust-and-competence-key">TUC and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner</a> in May last year, a solid 77% of British voters expects political parties to come up with “concrete plans for sensible changes in [the] country” whereas 15% wait for “a big vision for radical change”. </p> <p>Most voters are not passionate pro- or anti-Europeans either, but rather undecided or indifferent. <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/COMMFrontOffice/PublicOpinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/STANDARD/surveyKy/2098">Eurobarometer</a> data reveal that 36% of Europeans and 38% of Britons are ‘neutral’ about the EU. However, when framed in terms of economic benefits, the figures usually show a narrow pro-EU majority. As Sofia Vasilopoulou <a href="http://www.policy-network.net/publications/4964/Mixed-feelings-Britains-conflicted-attitudes-to-the-EU-before-the-referendum">has written</a> based on original data, “when it comes to a cost-benefit analysis of EU integration, most Britons accept that EU membership has generally benefited the UK” (see charts below).</p> <p><img alt="Brexit-Renaud-Fig1.jpg" width="100%" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Brexit-Renaud-Fig1.jpg" /></p> <p><img alt="Brexit-Renaud-Fig2.jpg" width="100%" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Brexit-Renaud-Fig2.jpg" /></p> <h2>The idea of Europe vs. EU institutions</h2> <p>Second, a carefully worded cost-benefit argument does not mean that the broader idea of Europe should be ignored. Here a distinction between Europe and the EU is necessary. That a lot of people loathe Brussels’ institutions is well understood on both sides. Remain campaigners are right to embrace the rhetoric of ‘reform’ in the context of continued membership, and there is a case for acknowledging questions of democratic legitimacy raised by the EU. </p> <p>However, Europe cannot be reduced to the EU, and very few people in Britain would deny the existence of historic ties and a sense of togetherness between European nations. Europe is <em>de facto</em> a community of values and, looking ahead, a ‘community of fate’ in a global and uncertain world. This common sense language can appeal to a broad range of people. In Eurobarometer surveys, ‘peace’ still comes first before economic prosperity and democracy when people are asked what the EU means to them personally. &nbsp;</p> <p>As a result, Leave campaigners cannot simply propose to exchange European cooperation outright for renewed transatlantic and overseas engagement. They need to explain how the UK will be able to maintain the peaceful and beneficial cooperation characterising Europe today without the support of EU institutions. They would be well advised not to attack Europe too frontally, and should come up with credible alternative institutional models of cooperation. </p> <p>The Remain side, by contrast, should develop a narrative linking Europe’s common values and shared challenges to the EU. They need to explain why Brussels institutions, though far from perfect, are necessary. “If the EU did not exist”, they could argue, “we would probably need to invent it. We might do things a little bit differently, but ultimately these institutions allow us to engage in stable and constructive relations with our partners without compromising too much on our sovereignty. And it is up to us to shape the EU in our way”. </p> <p>Throwing the baby (Europe) out with the bathwater (institutions) is a common mistake in the debates about the EU. In 2005, a substantial share of left-leaning French voters rejected the constitutional treaty because it enshrined, according to them, a neoliberal agenda into the treaties. Of course, they denied being against Europe and claimed, on the contrary, to be the only ‘real’ pro-Europeans. Yet the consequence was to thwart down the very institutional innovations which could have brought about a more political EU and, hence, greater room for change towards their own priorities. Embracing the idea of Europe and transposing it into credible institutional solutions is therefore imperative for both camps.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557950/24947332642_045d3ea406_z (1) (460x307).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557950/24947332642_045d3ea406_z (1) (460x307).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>European Union 2016 - European Parliament. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><span style="font-size: 17px; line-height: 20px;"></span></p><h2><span style="font-size: 17px; line-height: 20px;">A national story</span></h2> <p>Third and finally, the EU referendum is about Europe, but most importantly about Britain’s identity and desired place in the world. As <a href="http://www.britishfuture.org/publication/how-not-to-talk-about-europe/">British Future</a> has suggested, it is deeply emotional. At first glance, the story looks pretty straightforward for the Leave campaign: “let’s re-conquer our sovereignty and get it our way in the wider world”. <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/02/michael-gove-why-im-backing-eu-withdrawal">Michael Gove</a>, for instance, proposes to reconnect with centuries of proud British history of free trade and overseas strategic alliances. At the same time, Leavers need to embed this vision into the reality of today’s world, with few reliable and stable partners outside Europe, and the US slowly but steadily turning to Asia. As suggested above, Europe is a reality to Britain’s future whether they like it or not. </p> <p>For Remainers, the challenge is arguably more arduous. When asked, in 2012, how they saw themselves, 60% of Britons replied “British only”. Asked whether they felt European citizens, 42% of them only said yes, the lowest score in the EU (see graph below). Hence, the objective of the Remain campaign should be not only to warm voters up to Europe, but also to suggest a shift in perception. Indeed, they need to defend the idea of a new British identity, of which Europe has become an essential and unquestioned component. </p> <p><img alt="Brexit-Renaud-Fig3.jpg" width="100%" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Brexit-Renaud-Fig3.jpg" /></p> <p>The French president Francois Hollande used an interesting formula in that sense in an interview last year: “France is Europe and Europe is France”. That might sound far-fetched to expect a British politician to say this. Nevertheless, making a similar statement is something which Remain leaders should contemplate. And it does not need to be abstract: there are hundreds of historical and contemporary illustrations of how life in Britain and on the continent intersect, from the Romans to the Champions league, from wine and beer to easyJet. <a href="http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/ott/travel-trends/2014/rpt-travel-trends--2014.html">Twelve million British people visit Spain in 2014 and 9 million British people visited France respectively in 2014</a>, something reminding us that Europe is also synonymous of leisure, beach, and sun. Don’t be radical. De-link Europe from the EU, and explain how Europe is related to British identity and Britain’s place in the world: these are three reality checks which campaigners on both sides ought to undertake if they want to get the eyes of the public.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/Brexit-banner-final-140px%40x2.png" width="100%" alt="Brexit Divisions small banner" /> <div style="font-size:85%"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan/puzzle-of-eu-referendums">The puzzle of EU referendums</a><br />ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/renaud-thillaye/three-reality-checks-for-leavers-and-remainers">Three reality checks for leavers and remainers</a> RENAUD THILLAYE <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/matthew-elliott/why-britain-will-choose-safer-option-and-vote-leave">Why Britain will choose the safer option and Vote Leave</a> MATTHEW ELLIOTT <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/roland-rudd/winning-argument-for-staying-in-europe">Winning the argument for staying in Europe</a> ROLAND RUDD <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/simon-usherwood-katharine-wright/fighting-eu-referendum-online-strategies-frames-and">Fighting the EU referendum online: strategies, frames and successes</a> SIMON USHERWOOD and KATHARINE WRIGHT <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexitdivisions/ece-zlem-atikcan-claudia-sternberg/brexit-divisions-what-you-ought-to-know-about-eu-">Brexit Divisions: What you ought to know about EU referendums</a><br />ECE ÖZLEM ATIKCAN<br />CLAUDIA STERNBERG </div> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BrexitDivisions Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Renaud Thillaye Mon, 07 Mar 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Renaud Thillaye 100261 at https://www.opendemocracy.net From London to Athens, Europe is an empty shell https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/barbara-spinelli/from-london-to-athens-europe-is-empty-shell <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Optimists affirm that the EU-UK agreement has a positive side: London cannot veto the will of other member states pursuing an “ever closer Union". This is true, but only formally.<a href="http://barbara-spinelli.it/2016/03/01/da-londra-ad-atene-un-involucro-vuoto-chiamato-europa/"> <em>Italiano.</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/GettyImages-493206630.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/GettyImages-493206630.jpg" alt="German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Turkey." title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Turkey. Getty images/ Guido Bergmann/Bundesregierung. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Time has come to finally identify the common thread connecting the various failures of the European Union: on the question of refugees, on austerity, on democracy and the erosion of the constitutions in the member states, on the narrower and less democratic Europe which could emerge after the agreement negotiated with London.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Europe - as a common democratic project founded on the rule of law - was already disbanded in 2013-2014, during the last phase of Greece's debt crisis. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">Greece was not even invited [to the meeting of the Balkan states], as if it were not the main subject involved in this dramatic situation.</span></p> <p>Greece, a member state, was left alone and without any kind of support in order to allow the continuation of austerity measures and despite&nbsp; these same measures having proved ruinous, not only in Europe but in the whole world (I refer to the structural programmes promoted by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank ever since the 1980s in Africa, Asia and Latin America). </p> <p>The Tsipras Government - which revived many of the expectations of the European left – was rendered unable to follow its chosen path and it has capitulated to a third memorandum which was even more confining than the previous ones. </p> <p>This concession has not led to any positive outcome, since Athens is still threatened with expulsion. Moreover, on the refugee issue, Greece is already effectively excluded from Schengen.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>In the past few days, the government of Austria, after having closed its borders in line with the strategy adopted by the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia) convened, on 24 February, a meeting with the other nine Balkan states in order to stop the migrant flow coming from Greece through the border of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece was not even invited, as if it were not the main subject involved in this dramatic situation. The Greek Government rightly denounced Europe’s plummeting fall into a system of political governance, "that has its roots in the 19th century": the old system based on the concept of balance of power. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Vienna and the Visegrad Group have a twofold objective: on the one hand, to cut off Athens once and for all and move the external borders of the Union to Central Europe; on the other, punish the German Chancellor for its welcoming position on refugees. </p> <p>Currently, Angela Merkel is left completely isolated as far as the immigration issue is concerned, and this explains why she has&nbsp; created a very dangerous precedent in her collaborative approach with the Erdogan regime. </p> <p>The Union – precisely led by Germany – is striking what is actually a lethal bargain with Ankara. The harmfulness of this agreement is to be found in the leaked minutes of the negotiation meetings held by the Turkish Government and the European counterpart (Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk), during which Erdogan has been highly explicit about his demands. He threatened to inundate the member states with refugees, if Ankara does not obtain from the Union everything it asks:&nbsp; money, Europe's silence on the massacre of Kurds that is currently being perpetrated in the south-east of the country, as well as Europe’s silence on the Turkish bombardments carried out against the Syrian Kurds in the Rojavan Republic. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">If, after the referendum, the UK stays in Europe, it will also be exempt from freedom of movement for workers and from the social rights that the latter implies. The worst thing about this is that London sets a precedent.</span></p> <p>France has registered its disagreement with the decisions taken by Vienna and the Visegrad Group but, on 16 February, Prime Minister Valls refused to accept more refugees as requested. The Italian-French border remains closed, and the “jungle” of Calais is being dismantled without any regard to the distress of thousands of refugees trying to reach Great Britain.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>All these earthquakes generate further and no less serious shocks within the Union. One of these is represented by the agreement negotiated by the European Union with the United Kingdom, in order to avoid Brexit. An agreement which is not surprising per se, since the UK has already a very special status: it has an opt-out from the Euro, from Schengen, from the EU charter of fundamental rights, from common policies in the field of justice and home affairs. If, after the referendum, the UK stays in Europe, it will also be exempt from freedom of movement for workers and from the social rights that the latter implies.</p> <p>The worst thing about this is that London sets a precedent. From now on, any member state that does not want to be part of common projects will be encouraged to negotiate an opt-out. Hungary has already announced its will to follow in Cameron's footsteps with regard to the refugee quota decided by the Commission in order to relieve the burden on Greece and Italy. Poland could very easily follow suit.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Optimists affirm that in the EU-UK agreement there is a positive side: London cannot veto the will of other member states in their pursuit of an “ever closer Union". This is true, but only formally. What seems to be being covertly planned is a smaller Europe, even less democratic and more oligarchic than the present one. Which Parliament will control this more “cohesive” Europe, since the current one represents the citizens of all 28 states? Which opt-outs will be asked for by the other countries? The new Europe will not consist of the federal and democratic Europe envisaged in the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventotene_Manifesto">Manifesto of Ventotene</a> during the second world war, nor in the common shield conceived with the purpose of protecting the downgraded sovereign states from the attacks and offensives of the global financial markets. It is not able to fulfil this purpose today, and will be even less able to fulfil it in the future. It will be just a common market with a bureaucratic governance and, despite Cameron's assurances a very badly functioning common market. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">DiEM25 is not an advocate of the Union's return to sovereign states (of the so-called “Plan B”). It aims at a radical democratisation of the European institutions, and at a truly trans-national force of the Left.&nbsp;</span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Finally, I think the time has come to analyse also the state of left-wing parties in Europe. I am not referring to the socialists or the social-democratic parties: they endorse today a model of Europe which is reduced to a mere market place, while in external policy, they passively follow the strategies promoted by NATO along the borders of Russia or in Libya and the Mediterranean. I speak here about the European and truly federal left envisaged, for instance, by the<em> </em>movement founded by the former Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis and the Croatian philosopher Srecko Horvat (DiEM25). The movement is in its beginnings, but its positions are already clear and I fully share them: DiEM25 is not an advocate of the Union's return to sovereign states (of the so-called “Plan B”). It aims at a radical democratisation of the European institutions, and at a truly trans-national force of the Left. It invites the present European Left (and its group in the European Parliament, the GUE-NGL) not to fall prey to the illusions of “sovereignism”.</p> <p>The internationalist and federal left has no easy task, but the task is important and the expectations are high. A consistent part of the European radical and alternative left seems today captivated by the desire to seek salvation in the delusive return to national sovereignties: a project which is understandable given the sufferings inflicted on the weaker and poorer countries of the Union, but which is profoundly delusory (the global markets will not be reigned in and disciplined in this way) and will consequently and drastically reduce the prominence and influence of the left in Europe. Another recurring tendency of this nationalist left is to equate the centralization of the European technostructure with the federalisation of the Union, thus leaving the latter being monopolized by and in the embrace of those who aspire to a limited and even more bureaucratic and oligarchic Europe. </p><p>If we want to be at the service of European citizens, and at the same time to revive their need for Europe, we should seek to inform them better from today onwards with regard to what is really causing the current crumbling of the European project as initially conceived: i.e. as a shield to protect citizens from dictatorships, from a balance of power which benefits the stronger states of the continent, and from the ever-increasing power of the global markets.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/anthony-barnett/introduction-to-diem25-manifesto">The DiEM25 manifesto: Democracy in Europe Movement 2025</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/antonis-vradis/upside-down-athens">Upside down Athens</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/thomas-fazi/bleak-times-ahead-for-european-periphery">Bleak times ahead for the European periphery </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Equality Ideas International politics BrexitChasm Barbara Spinelli DiEM25 Fri, 04 Mar 2016 12:53:47 +0000 Barbara Spinelli 100307 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Open letter from a Eurocitizen living in London: Brits, vote for Brexit https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/koldo-casla/open-letter-from-eurocitizen-living-in-london-brits-vote-for-brexit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As a Spanish national living in London, I urge you to vote for Brexit. European integration is a political necessity for which the UK is a serious obstacle.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/8297627364_faf0b35c2c_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/8297627364_faf0b35c2c_z.jpg" alt="Los Alcazarez, Murcia, Spain." title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Los Alcazarez, Murcia, Spain. Flickr/carlbob. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>I have lived in England for nearly five years, mostly in London, but for personal reasons I have also become familiar with other parts of the country as well. I have always felt welcome here, for which I am grateful. I like England very much. I adore the preciseness of language, the humour, the diversity and buzz of the capital… I don’t even mind the weather! Ideally, I would like to stay for some time.</p> <p>This is my caveat, which I believe to be necessary since I will argue that the European Union would be better off without the United Kingdom.</p> <p>The UK has been part of the European Communities and the European Union for more than four decades. In the second half of this time the UK has enjoyed special treatment as granted by the other EU member states. It did not adopt the Euro, it does not participate in Schengen, and it can pick and choose from within the areas of security, justice and police cooperation as it pleases. Even the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is not fully applicable in the UK.</p> <p>But, as is well known, David Cameron promised to get more or leave. After intense talks behind closed doors, last Friday the European Council discussed and agreed on a <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-uk-deal-with-the-eu-explained-what-it-says-and-what-it-means-55052?utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20February%2022%202016%20-%204347&amp;utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20February%2022%202016%20-%204347+CID_09b8f49fa01141bd66fd1e304d25ce64&amp;utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&amp;utm_term=The%20UK%20deal%20with%20the%20EU%20explained%20what%20it%20says%20and%20what%20it%20means">new settlement for the UK in the EU</a>. Brits will be called to an in-or-out referendum scheduled for 23 June.</p> <p>I say it is time to fly free both for the UK and for the rest of the European Union.</p> <p>As an EU citizen (national of Spain) living in London, I urge you to vote for Brexit. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">The EU suffers from many challenges, but its relationship with the UK is the only one that requires a surgeon.</span></p> <p>Let me be clear. I believe there is quite a lot to change in the European Union, and hopefully Brexit will be a wake-up call. The grounds beneath the EU have shaken up in recent years, daunted by technocracy, austerity and political ineffectiveness (think of Ukraine, the Eurozone crisis, the refugee situation, etc.). Be that as it may, some sort of integration is more and more necessary in an increasingly interdependent world where European nation-states are decreasingly relevant. </p> <p>And this applies to the UK but also to all other European countries. For better or for worse, the European voice is fading in the world.</p> <p>I see European integration as a political necessity for which the UK is a serious obstacle. The British constituency either stops or slows the process down. Britain is a strong voice for a conservative agenda, utterly pro-business but not necessarily pro-liberalism, as shown by Eurosceptics’ insistence on the <a href="http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-final-uk-renegotiation-deal.html?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=Feed:+EuLawAnalysis+(EU+Law+Analysis)">restriction of freedom of movement.</a></p><p>The EU suffers from many challenges, but its relationship with the UK is the only one that requires a surgeon. I beg you, dear British reader and voter, to vivisection the Great British Isles from the rest of the continent, or the other way around. I really don’t mind how you put it. </p><p>I know this may sound more difficult if you live in <a href="http://insideurope.eu/taxonomy/term/185">Wales or Cornwall</a>, two regions that are notably dependent on EU cohesion funds. But don’t you worry, because with his campaign to recover national sovereignty, I am sure the Mayor of London intends to transfer surplus from the capital westwards. If you are a landowner and you are worried about the generous <a href="http://farmsubsidy.openspending.org/GB/">agricultural subsidies</a> you annually receive from Brussels, you don’t have to worry either, since the invigorated Westminster will swiftly help you out. By the way, Boris, if the UK finally leaves, don’t feel the need to return the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/projects/united-kingdom/london-welcomes-new-cable-car-over-river-thames">€27 million you got for the Emirates Cable Car over Thames</a>; a small “cheers” with an EU flag would do.</p> <p>Changes are always fearsome. Europeans on the other side of the Channel may be scared of the symbolic consequences. The UK would be the first country to leave this club. Yes, we would lose the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but we may get a less conservative and austericidal country in return: Scotland. Brexit could be that little push Scots need to demand a second referendum and put an end to 300 years of marriage. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">We would lose the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but we may get a less conservative and austericidal country in return: Scotland.</span></p> <p>Am I being too presumptuous? Wouldn’t a UK outside the EU expel me as well? I don’t think so. For every Spaniard living in the UK, there are two Britons living in Spain. Many of them are enjoying the sun in the south-eastern coast, but they are also enjoying the roads, public hospitals and the sense of security and legal certainty provided by police and functioning courts. I myself enjoy similar services over here in the UK, but alas, I am not the one talking about Spanexit, so don’t put the burden on me.</p> <p>Dear British reader, European companies probably won’t stop trading with British ones, and tourists will keep invading London every summer leaving their euros in Wetherspoon pubs, souvenir shops in Camden and expensive hotels in Mayfair. So if the fear that any of this may come to an end is making you reconsider your vote, well… keep calm and carry on. And vote out.</p> <p>To be honest, I don’t think I would do it if I were you. I don’t have good reasons for yourself why you should vote out. But I am asking you to do it for me. Certainly don’t do it for Nigel Farage. He may end up missing the only parliament he has ever managed to get elected to.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK EU CEMI brexit box BrexitChasm Brexit2016 Koldo Casla Fri, 26 Feb 2016 14:43:20 +0000 Koldo Casla 100127 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Europe is our battlefield https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/neal-lawson/europe-is-our-battlefield <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We must fight for the continental union we need.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Varoufakis.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Varoufakis.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Yianis Varoufakis at DiEM25, image, Arno, rights reserved: https://www.facebook.com/arnoimage/</span></span></span></p><p>The pistol has now been fired for so many debates we are so badly prepared for. The future of Britain, the future of Europe, the future of Britain in Europe and maybe the future of both without each other. </p><p>For once in over 40 years the people of Britain, all of its people, are being given a vote to decide our future. General elections don’t count because under first past the post most votes don’t count, making a mockery of any democratic claim. So not since we last decided to stay or leave the EU in 1975 will the fate of the nation, and more, be decided by its people. </p> <p>Of course the purpose of the referendum was no such thing. The purpose was to place a sticking plaster over the gapping wounds of the right on Europe, both within the Tory party and between the Tories and UKIP. But no matter. We have a vote. How do we use it?</p> <p>We start by learning from Scotland. They showed in their referendum that when the people have a decisive vote on something that matters it opens up a space to demonstrate that we have much more than a vote, that we have hearts and minds, imagination, courage, vision, hope, love, belief and solidarity. And so they had a conversation across their nation about what sort of people and country they wanted to be. </p> <p>Because we must use this once in a life time opportunity not just to decide whether to stay or leave – but to re-imagine what Britain and Europe are for in the 21st century and what their relationship should be. As such the ballot paper, with Stay or Leave printed on it, is far too small for such an epic consideration. But it is the best space we have, so we must pull it, stretch it and expand it, while the democratic window remains briefly open. </p> <p>Unfortunately, Labour and the wider left are badly prepared for this debate. Labour on Europe is a mixture of luke warm, free market, skeptic or exit. No one has put the hard yards in of thinking through a progressive or radical case for Europe and then built the networks to make it happen across the continent. Honorable exceptions go to <a href="http://www.policy-network.net">Policy Network</a>, the <a href="https://www.cer.org.uk/">Centre for European Reform</a> and Compass, the organisation I chair, which has helped run a <a href="https://www.socialeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/OccPap1.pdf">good society in Europe</a> project for a decade. But the leadership and mainstream Labour have had little or nothing to say about the future of Europe. The Labour In campaign seems content to re-run the 1975 referendum campaign around trade and jobs. We must do so much better or we will lose a vote and lose a huge opportunity to change the political weather. </p> <p>Because this is an incredibly opportunity to rethink, to ask the question ‘what is Europe for in the 21st century’ and if we were starting with a blank sheet of paper, ‘what would Europe look like if we built it now’? </p> <p>The debate needs to start with a grown up discussion about sovereignty. Because the truth is that borders are relentlessly and remorselessly becoming less and less valid. Globalization (especially of finance), climate change and mass migration, the most pressing issues of the day, are by definition beyond national control. If we want social solidarity, secure renewable energy, to be able to tax Google and to stop bankers destroying our economies then that can only ever be achieved at a global and European level. </p> <p>The simple and unavoidable fact is that power has been separated from politics. Unless and until we build the institutions and platforms to reconnect the two then everything else is for the birds. Only from a European, and eventually global, basis can we build the platforms and the rules for civilization to flourishing in the 21st century. </p> <p>But of course that demands a very different type of Europe. The Europe of yesterday was founded on the desire for peace. The process was free trade, an economic union that would irresisibly create a political union. That project is now dead. This pragmatic foundation worked when things were good, the Golden Age years of growth and relative social harmony in the 1950 and 1960s. But Europe has been creaking ever since – essentially since Britain joined the EU. Slowly the crisis of the post war social market, of social democracy and Christian democracy, of the decline of class, the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of financialisation, globalization and individualization have all caught up with and zoomed ahead of the Europe of Monnet and Schuman.</p> <p>So the choice is not exit or surrender but how we transform Europe. And the basis must be moral not just pragmatic. We must build a new Europe because we believe in solidarity and cooperation, in our interests and the interests of everyone. We must now actively embrace openness, diversity, pluralism and as much continent wide equality as we can create. This has to be a fully democratic and accountable Union, a Europe done with people not a Europe done to people. </p> <p>From a moral basis we can build the institutions and better still platforms that will enable the citizens of Europe to shape their Europe. We need public platforms for sustainable energy, Europe wide agreements on tax, a continent wide project to deal with immigration, solidarity transfers for welfare and of course a tax on financial transactions. </p> <p>Of course this feels daunting. We have to rebuild at the same time as we face climate change, the strong possibility of another crash and mass immigration. But the choice cannot be ducked. If it is, Britain will be isolated and its exit could trigger an even bigger EU crisis with Europe making another dramatic and terrible turn to the right as it did in the 1930s. </p> <p>Britain will be the crucible of debate on the future of Europe over the coming weeks and months. We must invite all of Britain and all of Europe in to the debate. We must use this opportunity to create a pan-European network of activists, thinkers, campaigners and political parties that want a different Europe. That in turn requires a new demos – spaces capable of carrying this debate. In our increasingly networked and connected society this is becoming possible. <a href="https://diem25.org">DIEM25</a> offers us new thinking space the creation of European citizens becomes possible through initiatives like <a href="https://www.wemove.eu">WeMove.eu</a></p> <p>Here in the UK we must learn another lesson from Scotland, how to build an ecosystem of ideas and organisations who want a progressive Europe. Compass has just launched <a href="http://www.goodeurope.org">GoodEurope.org</a> to help the process, to reimage what Europe is for, what polices and institutions are necessary to rebuild it and what our theory of change for Europe is – how we make it happen. Opportunities like this rarely come around. We have to seize it. We don’t have much time. Europe is our battlefield. We cannot leave it to our enemies.</p><p><em><strong><span>Please donate to openDemocracyUK </span><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><span>here </span></a><span>to help keep us keep producing independent journalism. Thank you.</span></strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/anthony-barnett/introduction-to-diem25-manifesto">The DiEM25 manifesto: Democracy in Europe Movement 2025</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/luke-cooper/different-europe-or-bust">A different Europe or bust</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/i-hate-eu-but-ill-vote-to-stay-in-it">I hate the EU. But I&#039;ll vote to stay in it</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Neal Lawson Thu, 25 Feb 2016 12:58:58 +0000 Neal Lawson 100092 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Euro 2016 vs Euro referendum: which one will win out? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/mark-perryman/euro-2016-vs-euro-referendum-which-one-will-win-out <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Brexit referendum will fall in the middle of the Euro 2016 football championship, where England (not to mention Wales and Northern Ireland) will feel at their most "European".</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/logo_euro_2016.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/logo_euro_2016.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="183" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Euro 2016 and the Referendum will collide this summer</span></span></span><span>David Cameron - you know the one who gets his Villas and West Hams all in a muddle when professing his undying love for a team in claret n blue - obviously wasn’t checking the summer fixture lists when plumping for a date to have a Euro Referendum.</span></p> <p>Not content with peeing off the Scots and Welsh with a vote just weeks after their 5 May elections, and Londoners too who vote for a Mayor on the same day Dave has also chosen to clash with football’s European Championships. And not only will much of England be transfixed on the tournament, but with Wales and Northern Ireland qualified, three ‘home’ nations will be there together at a Euro or World Cup for the first time since World Cup ’82, more than thirty years ago.</p> <p>In anybody’s book this is an historic achievement likely to spur huge popular interest, woe betide any canvassers, from either side, who interrupt those with eyes, ears and emotions transfixed on the TV for the games. The TV schedules for debates will have to be arranged not to coincide with games. Big rallies on any night our teams are playing will have row after row of empty seats.</p> <p>Just as the argument, in or out, reaches the proverbial fever-pitch a decent chunk of the English, Welsh and Northern Irish population (with the Republic qualified too both communities over there) will be maxing out their interest in all things European. And the Scots? Cheering on anyone but England, naturally!</p> <p>This could be a fascinating mix. Those papers trumpeting get out of Europe on the front pages breathlessly reporting on results from being in Europe on the pitch splashed across the back pages.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/euro.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/euro.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="251" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The opening ceremony of Euro 2012, which was jointly held in Poland and Ukraine. Wikimedia. Public domain.</span></span></span>Such a football vs politics fixture clash has some form beyond canvassers having doors slammed in their faces because they’ve interrupted a household watching a match on TV. In ’66, Wilson won a Labour landslide just ahead of England winning the World Cup and promptly draped his early version of Labour modernisation, the white-hot-technological variety, in all things football and Beatles. More than a generation before Blairism’s <em>Cool Britannia</em>, Harold’s ‘Have you ever noticed England only ever win the World Cup under a Labour Government’ is surely the definitive football-politics soundbite.</p> <p>Four years later Wilson decided not to call a General Election until after the Mexico ’70 World Cup fully expecting an England team many considered to be better than the ’66 squad to retain the trophy. They didn’t, losing 3-2 to West Germany in the quarters. A team that was past its glory days, a country looking for something different after six years of Labour. Edward Heath, a yachtsman, not a football fan, led the Tories to victory.</p> <p>In 1988 Jim Sillars scored a sensational by-election win for the SNP but lost his seat at the following 1992 General Election. This was in the midst of an era when Scotland qualified for Euros and World Cups including Italia ’90 and Sweden ’92. The Tartan Army were everywhere but no SNP breakthrough as a result. </p><p>An angry Sillars derided the supporters as ‘ninety-minute nationalists’. Now we have the obverse, no Scots team has qualified for a tournament since World Cup ‘98, the SNP’s support never greater. Ninety-minute nationalism? The commitment is so all-consuming it seems like the Scots barely have time for the football.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In ’96 England hosted the European Championships. When England made it through to the semis (look away now if the score and manner of the exit is too painful to watch) there are well-substantiated rumours John Major considered calling a snap General Election if England should win the tournament and kill off new Labour before it was too late. A semi-final defeat to Germany, on penalties, put paid to that idea.</p> <p>Not to be outdone Blair wrapped his 1996 Labour Conference in the opportunity he believed Euro ’96 had carved out for new Labour:</p> <blockquote><p>“Labour’s coming home! (Applause) Seventeen years of hurt never stopped us dreaming. Labour’s coming home! (Applause) As we did in 1945 and 1964, I know that was then, but it could be again – Labour’s coming home. (Applause) Labour’s coming home.”</p></blockquote> <p>Cringeworthy doesn’t even begin to do those words justice. Still, it didn’t seem to do Blair very much harm and the rest is history.</p> <p>And so history sends us rather mixed messages about Euro football vs Euro Referendum fixture clash. The most likely outcome will depend on which campaign has the best popular vision to project the meaning of Europe. So far the signs are dismal from both camps, in fact the entire commentariat - not to mention Cameron himself - appear to have entirely missed the clash of dates, and these people call themselves well-informed and in touch?</p> <p>My vision of Europe is rooted in popular culture, not the Westminster bubble politics of which self-serving Tory is stabbing another self-serving Tory in the back. National teams competing against one another, an expanded competition to recognise the new Europe, the free travel and mixing of fans and fan cultures, at home with our own ways of supporting our team, excited to take these on our travels away too. </p><p>And UEFA, or FIFA? Not much love lost between us and them, institutions in dire need of reform but we’re not walking away from the need to change them either. Europe as a place we can call home when we want to, abroad when we don’t. </p> <p>And the final score? If England, Wales and Northern Ireland combine to disappoint I wouldn’t count on support for staying in Europe doing very well as a result. But as I expect England to top their group, Wales come second, Northern Ireland stage an upset or two, France 2016 could prove to be one big party of being part of Europe not apart from. Never mind the establishment campaigns, instead expect a populist wave of Euro-enthusiasm to sweep Yes to victory.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mark-perryman/football-this-is-what-being-european-looks-like">Football: this is what being European looks like</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/pascal-boniface-benjamin-grizbec/football-and-its-role-in-unifying-european-publi">Football and its role in unifying the European public space</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dario-brentin/nations-most-holy-institution-football-and-construction-of-croatian-national-identity">The Nation&#039;s Most Holy Institution: football and the construction of Croatian national identity</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK BrexitChasm Mark Perryman Tue, 23 Feb 2016 09:18:31 +0000 Mark Perryman 99995 at https://www.opendemocracy.net I hate the EU. But I'll vote to stay in it https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay/i-hate-eu-but-ill-vote-to-stay-in-it <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The European Union is an undemocratic corporate stitch-up. But leaving would be worse.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/European_Parliament_Strasbourg_Hemicycle_-_Diliff.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/European_Parliament_Strasbourg_Hemicycle_-_Diliff.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="260" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>European Parliament, Strasbourg, by Diliff, CC BY-SA 3.0</span></span></span></p><p>I don't see why Euro-nationalism is particularly different from any other form of nationalism. Sometimes, people seem to call themselves 'European' as an attempt to escape the violent history bound up with the identity of their country. After-all, who can emerge from any honest history book proud to be French, or Spanish, or Belgian, or Portuguese, or Dutch, or German, or British? A desire to be liberated from the shame of a genocidal past is understandable.</p> <p>But too often, for me, 'European' ends up feeling like the identity of a smug cosmopolitan elite, who wish to define who they are as something different from the working class in whichever part of Europe they are from: a 'we' centred on fashionable cafes and bars from Edinburgh to Athens, and whose ultimate boundary is 'places where most people are white'. </p> <p>I'm European, sure. Any map will tell me so. But let's not pretend that an identity is more solidaristic simply because it encompasses a larger area. And let's not pretend, as dead bodies float onto the shores of the Mediterranean, that the boundary of this identity isn't as brutally enforced as the boundary of any other.</p> <p>Likewise, I have never really been infatuated with the European Union. My first real memories of engaging with it were campaigning against Economic Partnership Agreements as a student: rich countries clubbing together to bully their former colonies into ruinous trade deals. </p> <p>Since then, much of my experience of the EU has been negative: TTIP and Greek austerity, the failure of the emissions trading scheme and the disaster of the Common Agriculture Policy, rules enforcing privatisation of services and procurement laws pushing public contracts towards big business, the racist policing of the Schengen agreement within Europe and the murderous enforcement of the external border. Free movement of capital has proved to be a mistake, and I'm not convinced by free trade in general. </p> <p>The EU is an anti-democratic club for fading imperial bullies to ensure they are still relevant in the world and the idea of voting for it doesn't please me one bit.</p> <p>If anything, Cameron's deal makes it worse. Lessening the amount of child benefit people from poorer corners of Europe can send home to their children – child benefit they have usually paid taxes for – is a step in the wrong direction. Either we care about child poverty everywhere or we are xenophobes. Winning the City special status to avoid regulations which might stop it exploding is like securing the right to cling tightly to a kettle as it boils. </p> <p>Perhaps more fundamentally, the idea of having special status in a club, as Cameron says we will, is utterly intolerable. It is a cricket bat to the bollocks of every claim ever made about what is supposed to constitute British values. It is a skip of the queue, a cup of tea made with tepid water, a taking of the last biscuit. </p> <p>Finally, I don't like centralisation. I think that decisions should be made at the most local possible level, that governance is better when it is subtler, closer; when people can more easily organise with those around them and create enough wind to redirect it. </p> <p>There are intelligent people on the left, with whom I usually agree on most things, who will vote to leave the EU. I am tempted to join them. But I won't. Despite all of the above, on 23&nbsp;June, I'll vote for Britain to remain in the European Union. </p> <p>In part, this is because I'm not convinced that much of the above would change were we to leave. Westminster has been pushing TTIP within the EU and would happily sign up to just such a treaty as fast as Cameron could whip out his biro. It seems pretty clear that the UK would remain within the European Economic Area, as Norway and Switzerland are, or would negotiate deals which ended up meaning much the same. And most of the changes I'd want to our trade deals would be prohibited by the World Trade Organisation anyway. </p> <p>As Caroline Lucas has pointed out <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/caroline-lucas/its-time-to-make-progressive-case-for-staying-in-eu">here on openDemocracy</a>, “the UK has already <a href="http://leftfootforward.org/2015/07/the-uk-government-is-the-real-villain-when-it-comes-to-terrible-trade-deals/" target="_blank">signed a number of bilateral deals</a> that subject both sides to the dreaded <a href="http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/tags/isds" target="_blank">investor state dispute mechanisms</a> (ISDS) which allows companies to sue states for risking their 'future profits'”. And as she has forcefully argued, the politics of the EU is what it is because it represents the governments elected by the peoples of Europe. They will still be the governments, whether they collaborate through the EU or not.</p> <p>And, some kind of transcontinental governance seems like a good idea. We share the North Sea and Eastern Atlantic. Acid rain from the factories of Northern Europe used to fall on Britain. We move between each others' countries perhaps more than any other collection of states in the world. The co-ordinated power of the union gives the ability to stand up to the amassed power of the world's biggest businesses. Laws raising standards for workers and consumers have been key to driving up everything from fuel efficiency of cars to parental leave, in some cases across the world as well as in Europe. </p> <p>Were Westminster more democratic, I might still be tempted to vote to repatriate decision making to it. But choosing to take powers from the EU on the grounds that it is undemocratic, only for the laws to be scrutinised by the House of Lords and signed off by the Queen seems pretty pointless. Likewise, if the government negotiating Britain's exit in the case of a leave vote were one who I felt had a shred of democratic instinct, then I might trust them to set up a new arrangement worth having. But the reality is that in such a circumstance, it's likely that the deal would be done by Boris Johnson.</p> <p>In that context, one thing horrifies me more than any other – something pointed out most forcefully to me by my anarchist flatmate Molly. Because while we can weigh up the likely long term impact of a vote to end the union; the need for some kind of a change; the benefits of kicking Cameron in the teeth, or the desire to escape this pretty unpleasant institution, there is one key part of the EU which, in itself, is unambiguously good: the free movement of people. </p> <p>A vote to leave would put that at risk: not for me, popping to some conference in Paris. But for the thousands of EU nationals currently living in the country. Would a Prime Minister Johnson insist that anyone earning less than £36,000 should pack their bags and go? Quite possibly not. But am I willing to take that risk on behalf of thousands of other people on the off chance that Westminster will do something good with powers we give it, for a change? Am I willing to leave them in a state of perpetual fear of this possibility? No, I'm not. </p><p><em><strong><span>Please donate to openDemocracyUK </span><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><span>here </span></a><span>to help keep us keep producing independent journalism. Thank you.</span></strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/anthony-barnett/introduction-to-diem25-manifesto">The DiEM25 manifesto: Democracy in Europe Movement 2025</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/nick-pearce/after-brexit-eurosceptic-vision-of-anglosphere-future">After Brexit: the Eurosceptic vision of an Anglosphere future</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Brexit2016 BrexitChasm Adam Ramsay Mon, 22 Feb 2016 18:35:26 +0000 Adam Ramsay 99986 at https://www.opendemocracy.net It's time to make the progressive case for staying in the EU https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/caroline-lucas/its-time-to-make-progressive-case-for-staying-in-eu <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Britain's exit from the EU wouldn't liberate us from neoliberalism. Only joint struggles across borders can do that.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/C fave 23 RESIZED.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/C fave 23 RESIZED.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Caroline Lucas/Green Party</span></span></span></p><p>I can understand why some people on the left are sceptical about the EU. Anyone who cares about environmental and social justice only has to take a cursory glance at what's happening in our continent to realise that the EU isn't always beneficial to&nbsp;progressive policies here in Britain. </p> <p>A closer look, however, reveals that the picture is not black and white. Whilst, at present, the EU too often reflects the current British government’s zeal for privatisation and deregulation, historically there is a lot to celebrate. Even&nbsp;today, our EU membership offers us protection from the Tories' worst instincts. And&nbsp;– crucially – the EU offers us a way of working across borders to make things better and to achieve social and environmental progress, which simply would not be possible if the UK were to walk away.</p><h2><strong>TTIP – A taste of things to come if Britain was to go it alone</strong></h2> <p>One cause for scepticism is the transatlantic trade deal, TTIP. This epitomises everything that’s wrong with the EU – and with neoliberal politics in general. Back room decisions, handing power to corporations, and threats to our rights at work and public services.&nbsp;</p> <p>But those who hope that leaving the EU would make Britain's trade policy&nbsp;fairer are, to be frank, fooling themselves. The UK has already&nbsp;<a href="http://leftfootforward.org/2015/07/the-uk-government-is-the-real-villain-when-it-comes-to-terrible-trade-deals/" target="_blank"><span>signed a number of bilateral deals</span></a>&nbsp;that subject both sides to the dreaded&nbsp;<a href="http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/tags/isds" target="_blank"><span>investor state dispute mechanisms</span></a>&nbsp;(ISDS) which allows companies to sue states for risking their 'future profits'.</p> <p>Indeed the Tory Government is a major driving force for TTIP – and David Cameron is one of the deal’s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/no-we-cant-protect-ourselves-from-ttip-by-leaving-europe-heres-why-a6853876.html" target="_blank"><span>top cheerleaders.</span></a>&nbsp;With MEPs and German MPs able to access TTIP documents, the buck stops with UK Ministers for the shameful situation that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-questions-answers/?page=1&amp;max=20&amp;questiontype=AllQuestions&amp;house=commons%2Clords&amp;member=3930&amp;keywords=transatlantic" target="_blank"><span>politicians in Westminster cannot</span></a>.</p> <p>If we left the EU, then we could be left with what pro-Brexit MPs describe as the ‘<a href="http://www.euractiv.com/sections/uk-europe/wto-preferable-eu-say-uk-eurosceptics-312274" target="_blank"><span>WTO Option’</span></a>. What then? Well if recent trade deals are anything to go by, and with the Tories still in charge, we could then expect the roll out of multiple TTIPs on steroids as Britain negotiated trade deals with countries across the world.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mounting pressure from citizens, campaigners and progressive politicians across Europe has successfully forced the EU to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20151202IPR05759/All-MEPs-to-have-access-to-all-confidential-TTIP-documents" target="_blank"><span>open up</span></a>&nbsp;TTIP to more scrutiny. Eventually, our MEPs will vote on the final deal. If we want to stop the rot of&nbsp;damaging trade deals, it's our responsibility to&nbsp;make sure our elected representatives know that they will not get away with waving TTIP through.</p> <h2><strong>The attack on Greece – right wing Governments enforcing austerity</strong></h2> <p>Another concern for people on the left is Greece and the tragedy which has unfolded there.&nbsp;The imposition of austerity on the country – and the deep damage it’s caused – was certainly enough to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/16/greece-progressive-reform-europe-david-cameron" target="_blank"><span>make me think twice</span></a>. But to lay the blame simplistically on the EU&nbsp;is short-sighted. The real villains are the right wing European governments at the top table. With the European Council made up of ministers from each EU country, it often simply reflects the prevailing currents in European politics. The imposition of austerity in Greece should not be surprising when you look at Merkel’s right wing government in Germany or indeed the slash and burn policies of the Tories here in Britain.</p> <p>That’s not to say, of course, that institutions like the European Central Bank or the EU council aren’t anti-democratic – they are. But to give people a real say in Europe we need to prise open the doors of power, not throw away the one structure which has the ability to regulate the excesses of the cross-continental market.</p> <p>Brexit would do nothing to help the Greek people. We need more pan-European solidarity, resistance, and collaboration – not less.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Environment – cross-border challenges need cross-border solutions</strong></h2> <p>Not infrequently, I'm furious that EU environmental and climate policies don't go far enough. But it's important to remember that some of our dirtiest power stations have been closed thanks to EU directives. Our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/caroline-lucas/eu-referendum-climate-change-environment_b_9147716.html" target="_blank"><span>beaches are cleaner</span></a>, our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/19/eu-court-rules-uk-government-must-clean-up-dangerous-air-pollution" target="_blank"><span>air less polluted</span></a>&nbsp;and, as Mike McCarthy put so eloquently recently,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/nature-studies-the-environmental-case-for-staying-in-europe-a6847216.html" target="_blank"><span>our wildlife is far safe</span></a>r because of EU rules. Only last week the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.eurosite.org/en-UK/2016/02/02/meps-adopt-report-mid-term-review-eu-biodiversity-strategy-eu-law-needs-stronger-implemen" target="_blank"><span>European Parliament</span></a>&nbsp;backed stronger action on protecting nature. To me it’s obvious that being part of the EU makes sense when it comes to protecting our environment.&nbsp; </p><p>Pollution and environmental degradation don't respect national borders. As an environmentalist, I'd rather be working hard to make sure EU decisions deliver bolder cross-border solutions than spending the next three years scrabbling around to salvage scraps from the Nature Directives.</p> <h2><strong>Doing things differently – a new EU</strong></h2> <p>Ultimately, walking away from the EU would put at risk our&nbsp;<a href="http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=82" target="_blank"><span>rights at work</span></a>, our environment and our ability to influence the rules that will continue to affect us. Added to that is the profound risk that Brexit poses to our multicultural and multinational society. But if we’re going to stay in the EU we also need a vision of how we can do things differently.</p> <p>The EU will only change if we work together with people from across the continent to make it do so.</p> <p>This week activists, campaigners and politicians from across the continent&nbsp;<a href="http://diem25.org/" target="_blank"><span>gather in Berlin</span></a>&nbsp;to discuss how we'll win Europe back for the people. For a start that means&nbsp;<a href="http://diem25.org/" target="_blank"><span>democratising the EU structures</span></a>&nbsp;– making top meetings like the EU Council open to the public through livestreaming, giving more power to elected politicians over unelected Commissioners, and ending the culture of secrecy. It means further clamping down on corporate lobbyists – something that’s already begun in the EU and which Westminster could learn from. And it means thinking big about EU policies that would make all of our lives better such as cross-border minimum wages (set differently for each country but ensuring that everyone earns enough to get by on where they live). Much is still to be decided – but these talks are a solid start.&nbsp;</p> <p>On Wednesday the movement for a different kind of EU comes to Britain as a new&nbsp;<a href="https://outlook.office.com/owa/org" target="_blank"><span>pro-EU campaign</span></a>&nbsp;launches in London. The progressive case for British membership of the EU, which has been side-lined for too long in a debate dominated on both sides by big business, is about to be made loud and clear.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you care about social justice and our environment – and want to make the EU better for all of us – I urge you to join the movement to make another Europe possible. &nbsp;</p> <p><em><a href="https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dontwalkaway-the-progressive-case-for-staying-in-the-eu-tickets-21041646130">Sign up</a> to come to Wednesday’s event.</em></p> <p><em>Tweet: #DontWalkAway</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/caroline-lucas/postcapitalism-is-it-what-we-greens-have-always-been-arguing-for">Postcapitalism: is it what we Greens have always been arguing for?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk BrexitChasm Brexit2016 Caroline Lucas Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:39:07 +0000 Caroline Lucas 99641 at https://www.opendemocracy.net