European Union

The balance of class forces after the Brexit vote

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The world changed a little after Britain voted to leave the EU. Socialist Review spoke to Charlie Kimber, editor of Socialist Worker, about the new challenges revolutionaries face in the current period.

In the run up to the EU referendum in June we argued that a leave vote would create a crisis for our ruling class, particularly for the Tory party; that it would be a crisis for the EU project itself; and that therefore a Leave vote could provide an opportunity for our side to strengthen the fight against austerity. How much do you think we’ve seen those predictions borne out?

After the leave vote: we can beat back racism and austerity

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The British state, its ruling class, its economy and its political system have all been thrown into chaos by the vote to leave the EU.

Some 52 percent opted for exit, on a turnout of 72 percent, higher than any general election since 1992. They did so in the face of opposition from three quarters of MPs, the leadership of all three of the biggest parliamentary parties — the Conservatives, Labour and the Scottish National Party — the overwhelming bulk of British industry and almost every major capitalist institution, from the Bank of England to the International Monetary Fund.

Down with miserablism

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Both sides in the official EU referendum debate were excelling themselves in their hideousness as Socialist Review went to press.

In late May, Vote Leave launched a racist poster with the headline “Turkey (population 76 million) is Joining the EU” and a picture of a British passport. The Stay campaign hit back with another dodgy dossier from the UK Treasury predicting a year-long recession if we leave — this from the geniuses who forecast 2.5 to 3 percent growth in the recession year of 2008.

Damaging times ahead for the Tories

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The Tories' weakness over Europe is our side's potential strength, writes Sally Campbell

David Cameron “won’t last 30 seconds if he loses the referendum”, said Ken Clarke, one of the few sitting Tories who was in parliament for the last referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU’s forerunner in 1975. And whichever way the vote goes, he continued, the Tory party will struggle to unite afterwards.

Is the EU an ecofriendly institution?

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For many of those on the left who support Britain's membership of the EU, environmental protection is an important factor. But the EU's pursuit of neoliberalism and its steadfast support for big farmers negate any positive noises it makes about carbon emissions, writes Chris Fuller.

Among those groups urging voters to stay in the EU in next month’s referendum are the Greens and Friends of the Earth (FoE). The Greens state, “It’s only by working with our European neighbours that we can tackle climate change, protect wildlife and reduce pollution.” FoE argue that the EU has created cleaner beaches and drinking water, reduced air pollution and protected wildlife. Both organisations enter some caveats. The FoE website is littered with accounts of EU environmental disasters. The Greens say that the EU needs to be reformed, saying it can be changed “for the common good”.

Tories cook up a crisis

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The EU referendum is deepening the cracks in the Tory Party. Joseph Choonara looks at how the refugee question and EU austerity are converging into a crisis for our ruling class.

As the campaign over Britain’s EU referendum, set for 23 June, gets under way, the arguments by those advocating a “remain” position are rapidly coming unstuck. There are three arguments often encountered on the left: that the EU secures free movement, that the EU protects workers and that an exit would lead to British politics shifting rightwards. All three are based on an unwarranted pessimism.

The bosses Europe is not for us

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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.

Beware what you wish for if you vote no to EU

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Joseph Choonara (October SR) mistakes a Yes in the EU referendum as necessarily meaning support for its right wing institutions and practices. He wrongly assumes that leaving is the only way of opposing them; and he completely ignores the implications of leaving.

Firstly, instead of addressing what I wrote, he fantasises about what I was “maybe” saying or “perhaps” thinking.

In reality, I neither support nor wrote (or thought) anything about an EU “super-state”. I neither said nor implied that internationalism “must…express itself through…EU institutions”.

More space for a left No

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The debate continues on how best to be an internationalist in the run up to the EU referendum.

Last month’s Socialist Review contained James Anderson’s rather intemperate response to an article I wrote calling for an “internationalist No” in the forthcoming referendum to retain British membership of the European Union.

He writes, “The main argument for voting Yes is that in practice internationalism would be greatly facilitated and given credibility and focus by taking full advantage of the common political framework provided by the EU — by sharing the common membership and institutions and also the common enemies it provides.”

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