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The EU: Only for the few

Doug Nicholls condemns the EU's pre-emptive strike against the Labour manifesto and election victory

The Times newspaper has reported that EU officials are seeking to negotiate new clauses into the leaving arrangements with punishing future penalties.

These have been designed to try to strangle a Labour government mandated by the manifesto For the Many Not the Few.

They want to hard-wire permanently into any post Brexit EU/Britain relations the privatisation and free market economy central to their project.

Above all, for British workers, leaving the EU means leaving this neoliberal hell and returning to a sense of the common good, the public not the private.

They want a non-regression clause to prevent renationalisation of assets and bringing our utilities and public services back into public ownership.

What really terrifies the EU is Britain subsidising again its productive manufacturing sector instead of relying on the EU-imposed finance sector based in the south-east of the country and able to gamble throughout the world.

It is precisely to oppose such measures throughout the Europe that the EU was formed in the first place.

It opposed the spirit of 1945 — its whole programme is entirely dominated by the 30,000 corporate lobbyists camped out in Brussels.

National independence, public ownership and democracy have always been opposed by the EU. They told the socialist Portuguese government not to reflate the economy and enabled the banks and Germany to buy up the national assets of Greece and take over, in effect, its parliament.

Previously they sought to overturn Irish, French and Dutch referendum results on key issues when populations spoke out for sovereignty.

The EU desperately needs to secure its trading position with Britain as it sells far more to us that we sell to it


Senior EU officials told The Times newspaper they were toughening their stance in increasing anticipation of a Labour general election victory. Labour now has public spending and ownership and industrial regrowth at the core of it programme.

EU officials are quoted as saying: “The idea that Conservatives would legislate a race to the bottom is a myth and no-one really believes it, even if some Tories have helped create it. The real fear is state subsidies under a Jeremy Corbyn government …

“British policy has remained unchanged for generations, but now there is a real chance of a left-wing government reversing it. We have to protect ourselves and the single market.”

In fear of a Corbyn government, EU negotiators will demand mechanisms in the final agreement that would impose compensation and higher tariffs and, if industrial regeneration is supported in Britain by state subsidies, they will consider measures restricting British air traffic and grounding flights.

The renewed hope given by the referendum result, and Corbyn’s leadership, represent challenges to the entire EU shebang.

Since the British referendum the EU has lurched to the right in a number of key ways. It is developing its military strategy and united forces under the new PESCO agreements.

It has adopted a more aggressive and bombastic foreign policy, notably revealed in its continual assault on the Venezuelan government and interference in others’ affairs.

At home, the EU continues to orchestrate the demolition of remaining workers’ rights and collective bargaining structures — the latest targets are in France and Italy.

Economically, the EU remains the low growth zone of the world, with its endemic mass unemployment of some 20 million (8.5 per cent) throughout the continent, continuing to haunt it.

The frightening rise of the far right on the streets of many EU countries has been matched by the rise of the Establishment right in the EU parliament where it has a strong majority.

It’s hardly surprising in this context that the EU desperately needs to secure its trading position with Britain as it sells far more to us that we sell to it.

Any rebalancing of the British economy, as Labour intends, so that we can produce more and better for ourselves all over the country, goes against the grain of the free market and globalisation.

EU negotiators want Britain to sign a leaving agreement as close to the current membership agreement as possible. They will go to every length to secure this in the name of the corporations and the inbuilt right-wing majority that rubber-stamps policy in the EU Parliament.

The referendum result and the renewed direction of Labour reflect a deep determination and new mood within the British population.

The dreadful years of slumber are over — it was a sleep partly induced by false promises from the EU mandarins.

The promises of a social democratic Jacques Delors have now been replaced by snarling hatred of the new direction people so obviously want for our country.

No amount of bullying by EU officials will alter the fact the majority want out, cleanly and quickly so that we, together, can rebuild.

Doug Nicholls is chair of Trade Unionists Against the EU.


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