Today is D-day. Keep your hair on, I’m not making reference to the war – it’s just a turn of phrase. I know Remainers hate it when Leavers compare Brexit to the war (don’t worry, I think they’re stupid, overblown comparisons too!) To be honest, how we vote today isn’t a big deal as far as Brexit goes. It is essentially meaningless.
Here is how the Archbishop Cranmer blog put it:
The European Parliament is not a parliament in the sense that we understand it: it cannot initiate legislation or affect a policy outcome, for any legislative amendment it proposes must be agreed by the EU Commission, where the real power resides. The European Parliament is a talking shop: it is the impotent democratic façade of the anti-democratic forces by which we have been governed for 46 years, and it really doesn’t matter whether the UK sends 73 staunch Brexiteers or 73 Tories or 73 Socialists or 73 Greens or 73 mix’n’match MEPs, absolutely nothing will change because the direction is pre-ordained and the vision teleologically determined: ‘ever closer union’ is inviolable; the objective is a United States of Europe. Not even our ministerial representative on the European Council can change this: the Treaty of Rome is immutable in its foundational precepts.Archbishop Cranmer blog
The only potential difference our vote makes is the possible message we send to our British parliamentarians. If we return a party committed to delivering Brexit, it will be apparent that we have not changed our mind. If we return nothing but Liberal Democrats, a different but no less clear message will be sent.
Practically, these elections change nothing. But how they will be interpreted potentially makes some difference to how our elected representatives might respond. Whether they will deliver the Brexit we voted for, and the kind of Brexit they might deliver, may be impacted by how we vote today.
Now, I am very conscious that most people have a firm idea in the mind on these things already. But I want to make a last ditch effort to persuade you that Brexit is the right call. I don’t presume to persuade the centrist liberals, whose free market dogma leads them inexorably to line up behind those who benefit most fully from globalisation. But I do want to offer one argument, based on current events, to any who claim to be Socialists. Let me persuade any who sit on the left, who care about working people, who are internationalist yet reject globalisation. Let me give you one argument to persuade you, today, to vote for a party that will deliver Brexit.
Yesterday, British Steel went into receivership. The steelmaker, who employs over 5,000 people and thousands more in the supply chain, have entered insolvency after emergency funding talks with the government broke down. Jeremy Corbyn had this to say:
But here is the problem. As the BBC report:
The EU forbids the government from bailing out the company. But it is worse because the EU would also prohibit the UK government from nationalising British Steel and bringing it into public ownership. Trade Unions were traditionally against the EU for this very reason. As the late Bob Crow and other union folks pointed out during the No to EU march back in 2013:
British Steel provides us a live case of just how anti-worker and pro-global-capital the EU really is. Socialists and Unions have been saying this for decades. The EU is neither democratically accountable nor concerned about workers.
It is only in the last three or four years that those who claim to be Socialist, or lefty, have rejected this. They have determined that the EU is a benign, benevolent organisation. They have lined up behind major conglomerates and multinationals, the likes of which they historically viewed with a rightful sense of suspicion and decried as they failed to pay their taxes fairly specifically as a result of EU directives encouraging them to declare profit abroad and offset the tax they would pay. It turns out many of those who claim to be Socialist, or leftists, are actually free market liberals defending the same line as the banks and multinationals.
So, as you go to place your vote, consider this. As British Steel goes to the wall and 5,000 of its workers, and 20,000 others who rely on its existence, are laid off consider the EU rules stopping the British government bailing it out or, better yet, nationalising it. Consider the democratic affront of the unelected EU commissioners overruling the wishes of the elected British government, who answer to the British electorate, on this issue. Consider that the reason the EU are prepared to let it go to the wall is to defend its free market dogma and single market that serves the interests of global capital at the expense of workers. If you are genuinely on the left, if you claim to be a Socialist, will you support free market liberalism or the Socialist tradition in which you claim to stand?
Let me leave the final word to that great Socialist, Tony Benn: