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EU Withdrawal Jeremy Corbyn is right, Brexit will be what we make of it

Membership of the single market does not permit the rebalancing of the economy Britain needs to get back on its feet, writes DOUG NICHOLLS

TRADE Unionists Against the European Union has welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Coventry outlining the Labour Party’s approach to Brexit and rebuilding and transforming Britain with a new internationalist spirit.

Coventry bore the full brunt of Thatcher’s onslaught and her deepening of EU membership. She destroyed more industrial jobs in Coventry than Hitler did in the blitz and the EU ably abetted her by subsidising companies to move factories out of the city to low-wage areas of the EU.

Coventry symbolised the fortunes of the whole country, a workshop of the world turned into a network of foodbanks during the period of EU membership.

Because 27 EU countries in total export more to us than we export to them, we are actually in a very strong position in the negotiations. They need us more than we need them as far as trade is concerned.

For the national phoenix to rise out of the ashes, as Coventry once did, the leader of the opposition recognised that the people’s voice in the referendum must be honoured. We are leaving the EU, though not of course Europe; you can’t leave a land mass.

As internationalists we want a modern, highly skilled, full-employment economy in Britain that will enable us to reverse the balance of trade deficit with the EU and trade equally throughout the world, opening new markets once we have fed our own people properly.

Our current membership of the single market does not permit the rebalancing of our economy towards manufacturing and production.

Our current membership of the EU customs union links us into trading agreements that, for example, strangle African food production.

The funds we give as a net contributor to the EU each year urgently need to be dedicated to re-investing in our public services.

Our peace-loving commitments globally demand that we are free of the EU’s increasing militarisation and arms expenditure as evidenced in its recent Permanent Structured Co-operation (Pesco) agreements.

As a labour movement which very much united Britain, we want an end to the divisions and attempted break-up of the country we created, recognising that the needs of workers in Cornwall, Cardiff and Glasgow are shared and collective bargaining should benefit us all equally with restored trade union and employment rights.

The EU, a corporate structure that fosters regionalism, has damaged our national unity, and encouraged the tearing up of workers’ rights and collective bargaining throughout the continent.

As Jeremy Corbyn says, a “bespoke, negotiated relationship” of our own with the EU, the rest of the world and specialist agencies linked to regulation and advances in production, environmentally friendly and healthy consumer protections is needed.

Once we have the national independence back to achieve this, we will be able to ensure that all this is done with the best interests of our economy and all working people in mind. Therefore the shorter the transition period with the EU, the better.

Corbyn’s clear determination to reinvest in the British economy, its modern industries, transport, infrastructure of utilities and public services, should lead to a labour market and skills development plan that will itself help stop the draining of other European countries of much needed skilled labour.

Other countries in Europe, especially in the south and recent accession states, desperately need to become strong. A decent immigration policy will be linked to this plan at home.

Whatever the issues are that we will have to tackle in this challenging period ahead, Jeremy Corbyn has put it succinctly: “Brexit is what we make of it together.”

European Commissioner Jean Claude Juncker can’t rebuild Britain with his army of corporate lobbyists in Brussels. Only the British people can do that.

The inspiration we will give to others in this process as we end the years of austerity and financial gambling with our jobs and economy will be a great expression of our real internationalism.

Doug Nicholls is chair of Trade Unionists Against the EU.

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