The recent reports on the spat within the Tory party over the EU referendum raise an interesting question about the Tories’ real agenda. Big business and the City, the latter now largely owned by US investment banks which view the UK as an important bridgehead into Europe, clearly want to retain access to the single market. But without the employment, health & safety and welfare protections secured by the labour movement. This suggests that much of the Tory dissension is decidedly disingenuous posturing, designed to negotiate repatriation of powers in these areas and take the sting out of the UKIP threat; or represents ‘Little Englander’ attempts to replace control of our economy by international monopoly capital with that of British monopoly capital, wedded to a continuation of austerity and deepening inequality.
But this shouldn’t obscure the very real progressive argument for leaving the EU. The EU Stability and Growth Pact outlaws Keynesian-style reflationary policies. Competition policy prevents state aid to strategic industries. The EU Services Directive forces privatisation of what remains of the public sector. EU rules prevent control over capital movements. And ECJ legal judgements undermine collective bargaining and wage levels. Social Europe is a con. The EU is inherently anti-democratic and anti-working class. The left needs to tackle the stranglehold that the rightwing media exercise on this issue and make the case for an alternative, progressive future outside the EU – where we have the right to self-determination, can re-balance the economy away from finance towards manufacturing, can re-orient our trade policy towards the developing world and can construct a society on explicitly democratic, socialist terms.