L4SE election briefing: “Remain and transform”

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This is one of a series of election briefings from left-wing anti-Brexit campaign Labour for a Socialist Europe. See here for the others, on “Johnson’s Trump-Brexit”, “Why free movement?”, “Why socialism?”, “Free our unions”, “Restore the NHS”, “Housing should be a right”, “A National Education Service”, “A Socialist Green New Deal”, “Why public ownership?”, “Replacing Universal Credit”, “High finance: take back control” and “Why not tactical voting?”

Uniting Europe is a historical necessity. None of the problems facing humanity can be overcome through national divisions.

The problem facing us is that the European Union is ultimately attempting to unite the continent along neo-liberal lines that favour the capitalists.

But those that say the EU is only a “bosses’ club” are being one-sided.

Some significant workers’ rights are in EU law, such as the TUPE regulations that protect some of our contract terms when we are transferred between employers.

We want strengthening of these rights and new ones too, like a Europe-wide legally-enforced shorter working week with no loss of pay.

All the changes we want in Europe depend on the labour movements and left linking up across borders.

We want to replace the bureaucratic and neoliberal system of EU with a socialist system – across Europe. That will be done by international socialist organisation.

Given who is organising Brexit and who stands to gain and lose from it, leaving the EU would set back the building of that cross-border socialist movement. Whereas if Britain stays in the EU, we can use the freedom of movement and intellectual exchange which the EU affords to better organise that movement.

The economic integration of the EU has produced some “levelling-up” of wages. The gap between Spanish wages, or Polish wages, and German wages, is smaller now than when Spain or Poland joined the EU. But that process is slow and uncertain.

We work for a cross-border movement which will level up wages, workers’ rights, and social security across Europe.

If Labour loses in this election, and even if it wins, we expect to have to deal with far right forces much stronger even than they were in 2016.

No matter how the Brexit drama ends, we will adapt and find ways of relating to socialists across Europe, whether Britain is still in the EU or not. To coordinate with other groups and organisations across Europe who are opposing the Boris Johnsons and Nigel Farages in their countries.

We will link up so we can campaign across the EU for the extension and levelling up of social rights and equality across the EU.

Against regressive taxes like VAT, which take a bigger proportionate slice from the poorest, and for serious taxes on the incomes, property, profits, and inheritances of the rich, to create a sizeable EU budget to be used for levelling-up.

We want the banking system, high finance, and major utilities taken into public ownership and placed under democratic control, in each country and across the continent.

The climate emergency is international. It cannot be tackled country-by-country.

We work to link up across Europe for a transition coordinated on a European scale: to break the death-grip of fossil fuel capital and retool the economy to run on a carbon-neutral basis.

For Europe to take its energy industry into public ownership with the workers in control, democratically, alongside the communities they serve.

Freedom of movement across borders within Europe is one of the great boons of the EU. We want Europe also to welcome and accommodate refugees fleeing persecution, violence and destruction.

Europe is currently run mainly by committees of ministers from its member governments, surrounded by a bureaucracy, with the Parliament comparatively weak and toothless. Instead of this, we fight for a united socialist Europe with all its institutions under democratic control.

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