The strong left­wing case against the EU

The Guardian - Journal - - Letters -

Chris Math­e­son (There is no left­wing jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for Brexit. We must fight it to the last, the­guardian.com, 7 Jan­uary) thinks the world has moved on since Tony Benn, but his own pic­ture of the world is al­most ex­actly the pic­ture that the orig­i­nal ad­vo­cates of en­try into the Com­mon Mar­ket be­lieved in in the 1970s: that the globe is di­vided be­tween Ocea­nia and Eura­sia (sorry, we meant the US and the EU), and that the poor lit­tle UK has to choose be­tween them. Benn re­jected this then, and so­cial­ists should re­ject it now. There is a pro­found dis­tinc­tion be­tween glob­al­i­sa­tion and in­ter­na­tion­al­ism, and it is one that Chris Math­e­son does not make.

What Math­e­son’s ar­gu­ments boil down to is the fol­low­ing: (a) in a glob­alised world, eco­nomic and so­cial poli­cies have to be de­cided at a supra­na­tional level; and (b) mem­ber­ship of the EU pre­vents a Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment from im­ple­ment­ing some of its pos­si­ble poli­cies. The prob­lem with (a) is that it is a fan­tasy that the EU will im­ple­ment the kinds of poli­cies that so­cial­ists might want, given its fun­da­men­tal char­ac­ter as a free mar­ket, with the four free­doms en­shrined in a con­sti­tu­tional or­der that there is no way of chang­ing short of a set of new treaties. Democ­racy is a bet­ter bet.

As for (b), be care­ful what you wish for: struc­tures that im­pede Tory poli­cies are just as likely to be used against so­cial­ist ones, and fre­quently have been. Ul­ti­mately it is not up to any of us to de­cide on the mat­ter, but up, in the end, to a con­sti­tu­tional court whose de­ci­sions (un­like those of the UK supreme court) can­not be over­ri­den by any po­lit­i­cal or leg­isla­tive process. It is the haz­ard of ty­ing our fu­ture in fun­da­men­tal re­spects to this struc­ture that mo­ti­vates us to sup­port a clean break with the EU.

Richard Tuck Pro­fes­sor of gov­ern­ment, Har­vard Univer­sity, Mau­rice Glas­man

Labour, House of Lords

More at gu.com/let­ters: “My Labour col­league Chris Math­e­son is wrong to dis­miss the long and prin­ci­pled his­tory of left­wing op­po­si­tion to the Eu­ro­pean Union and its pre­de­ces­sors,” writes Gra­ham Stringer MP

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