David Cameron has set the date, 23 June, for the referendum on EU membership, and there’s a whiff of panic in the air.
The Tory party is split down the middle, with important figures such as current London mayor Boris Johnson opting for the leave camp in opposition to Cameron’s desire to stay.
Big business is also taking sides. Half the FTSE 100 top companies have signed a letter putting the business case for EU membership, though the capitalist class is by no means united on this.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has half-heartedly backed the stay camp, while seeking to differentiate himself from Cameron’s anti-migrant, pro-neoliberal stance. Once again the Labour Party finds itself in the position of playing the key role in backing Cameron in a referendum — with more cheers coming from the Labour benches than the Tory ones as the prime minister set out his position.
But socialists shouldn’t feel compelled to back the austerity-driven, racist EU project simply because the leave camp is led by such hateful figures as Nigel Farage, Michael Gove and Boris. In fact, it is important to note the racism and pro-business arguments dominating both camps. Socialists have a responsibility to put a principled internationalist, anti-racist, anti-austerity case for a left exit.
Neither should we be afraid that if Britain left the EU it would automatically benefit only the right. Britain’s need for migrant labour wouldn’t disappear, and it is unlikely that a Britain outside the EU would kick out the 2 million EU citizens living here — any more than EU states would kick out the 2 million Brits living abroad.
Crucially, a vote to leave would destroy David Cameron, tear apart the Tory party, weaken the EU project and throw all kinds of questions up for debate.
We vote to leave in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Greece suffering under the EU institutions — as well as those risking death in the Med to reach Fortress Europe’s shores.