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Corbyn calls for unified European strategy to fend off far-right

EUROPEAN politics must change if the left is to fend off the far-right “fake populists” who feed on people’s fears of low living standards and insecure work to fulfil their political agendas, Jeremy Corbyn urged today.

The Labour leader was in Lisbon at the Congress of the Party of European Socialists, where he said his party is committed to “build a new Europe, inside and outside the institutions of the EU.”

He slammed EU support for austerity that had caused “serious hardship” across the continent.

He warned that the far right will “always find a scapegoat” for national problems and that the left needs to find real solutions.

“The stakes could not be higher. If we cannot rise to the task, then we will smooth the path to power of the fake populists,” he said.

“The far right feeds on fears fuelled by falling living standards, damaged communities, insecure work and underfunded public services. It diverts the blame away from the powerful few responsible for economic and social failure and on to minorities.

“If the European political establishment carries on with business as usual, the fake populists of the far right will fill the vacuum.”

He paid tribute to the Portuguese example of progressive political parties working together to curb austerity and said that that approach should be taken across the continent. 

Mr Corbyn said: “Inside or outside the European Union we are internationalists to our very core.

“As socialists and trade unionists, we will work together to help build a real social Europe: a people’s Europe, a socialist Europe, that will strengthen solidarity across borders, resist the race to the bottom in rights and protections and work together to extend them for all workers, consumers and our environment.

“We have to recognise that EU support for austerity and failed neoliberal policies have caused serious hardship for working people across Europe, damaged the credibility of European social democratic parties, and played a significant role in the vote for Brexit.

“European socialists have to fight for a different kind of Europe.”

With Prime Minister Theresa May’s botched Brexit deal likely to be voted down on Tuesday with the help of Tory rebels, Mr Corbyn laid out Labour’s alternative plan for Brexit in his speech.

It includes “a new comprehensive customs union with the EU,  a new strong relationship with the single market, and guarantees on existing EU rights at work, environmental standards and consumer protections.”

Lamiat Sabin is Morning Star Parliamentary Reporter.

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