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British Referendum on Brexit

Featured image: Credit www.inquisitr.com

by bo staff writer


International solidarity


Workers, youth, trade unionists and political activists from the entire spectrum of the labour landscape as well as from 23 countries of Europe under the banner “(w)e support the workers of Britain who will vote to leave the European Union (EU) in the 23 June referendum”, attended an Internationalist Rally held in Paris on 28 May 2016 and adopted a European Appeal supporting Britain’s exit from the EU.


The Internationalist Rally was a platform that encouraged shared experiences of those people’s and nations who suffered directly from the oppressive programs of the EU which where actioned by all the member states of the EU.  It was agreed that should the referendum reflect a vote in favor of leaving the EU this would serve as a platform for the people of Europe to cut the EU’s oppressive chains.


According to Heinz-Werner Schuster, a member of the Düsseldorf  SPD Labour Commission (Germany)  and the initiator of the above European Appeal, the rally was called “on the basis of the appeal to trade unions, Labour Party branches and CLPs and those British labour activists who, despite the instructions issued by the Labour Party leadership and the leading circles of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), have decided to call for a vote to “leave” the European Union on 23 June!”


A few of the experiences across Europe are indicated for context.


Holding the rally in France, Paris was symbolic of the solidarity that was shared with the struggle of the French workers against the Government of Hollande-Valls and its anti reform of the Labour code referred to as the “El Khomri Bill”. To this end the  French people had sent a strong message to their pseudo socialist-led Government (who are happy to implement the programmes dictated by the EU) to withdraw the El Khomri Bill. The have vowed to strike until the bill is withdrawn. read more


In Greece, notwithstanding the fact that Syriza was elected on a mandate to reject austerity and the “Memorandums policy”, the Tsipras government has sold the aspirations of the Greek people and plans to implement new reforms dictated to by Brussels.


Panagiotis Tassopoulos, the representative from the Popular Unity of  Greece, offered counsel drawing particularly from the experience of Greece as to what happened when the Tsipras led Syriza took the vote of 61.5% of the people who said NO to austerity and to the oppressive control of the EU and converted it to a YES.


To this end the Greek government is currently taking further “austerity measures” to the tune of “5.4 billion euros” and in this regard “is selling off everything that belongs to the State” and is repeating the policy of previous governments.


The people of Belgium recently took to the streets in their thousands and registered their rejection of the right wing government’s imminent reform of the Labour Code which in turn is in line with the dictates of the EU. Similarly the workers of Germany have demonstrated against government measures to “impose precarious work, wage dumping and the abandoning of collective bargaining agreements”. The rally heard how in Italy too, the so-called leftist government is proceeding in terms of the EU’s dictates against the interests of the  workers. News was brought to the rally of how the people of the Baltic States,  Poland and the Czech Republic, are being choked in the stranglehold of NATO and the EU who in turn  are pushing them into excessive armament.  In Turkey the refugees, whose former countries of abode were torn apart via the bloody hands of the EU, are being ejected and returned to their countries of origin. read more 

Credit www.newsweek.com
Credit www.newsweek.com



The issue of Britain’s membership of the EUl is the crux of the June 23, 2016 referendum. The result of this referendum will have far reaching implications not only for the people of the EU member states but also for those far beyond the EU community.


There’s growing support in Britain for opposition to the EU from the left being the Scottish Left Leave, the RMT rail and maritime union, Counter re, the Socialist Workers Party, the Indian Workers Association (GB), the Communist Party and the Bangladeshi Workers Council of Britain. There’s also support from trade unions and organisations representing workers of Turkey, India and  Bangladesh as well as migrants in the country. read more 


Support to Remain in the EU is also significant.  To this end, this is what Alex Gordon, representing the Lexit campaign, said about who the main supporters of the Remain campaign are and what its purpose is:


“The representatives of Goldman Sachs and all the global banks based in the City of London; the IMF Director-General Mme. Lagarde; President Obama and the leaders of world’s main imperialist powers from Europe and Canada; the general secretary of NATO and the governor of the Bank of England are all united to [demand, cajole and] threaten voters in Britain that a vote to LEAVE the EU will bring war, economic recession and a life of endless misery, which is ironic because these are precisely the outcomes that their policies promote…”  read more 


The three tendencies of the left


The  left is characterized by three tendencies in their rejection of the EU. The first tendency claims that a break with the EU amounts “to covering the City of London and part of the British bourgeoisie” and  to this end shifting the working class focus from its legitimate struggle with David Cameron.


Heinz-Werner Schuster correctly dismisses this argument as “left wing verbiage” which amounts to “a total revision of the position on breaking with the EU” and a left wing cover for the leaderships, with the argument of right wing votes”. This is how the EU and its members states are protected by the leaders of organisations who claim to represent the workers and to this end convert their aspirations for settlement with the neo liberal agenda of the EU and its institutions. These are conducive conditions for “right wing demagogy” to thrive.   (See link: http://www.cpbml.org.uk/sites/default/files/pdf/paris.pdf)


The second left tendency clearly favors the position for Britain to break with the EU and their anti people policies that interferes with the nations sovereignty, prevents the free circulation of workers within the EU, infringes on the rights of migrant workers, fuels xenophobia by its anti refugee perspective of tightening borders and limitations on the rights of migrant workers, ruins pensions and other benefits to the elderly, deprives people of their rights to proper health, education, a living wage, full enjoyment of collective bargaining agreements and pro worker labour laws etcetera.

In this context there is certainly a call for a new perspective that would serve the interests of workers and the continents majority.


The third left tendency calls for a total boycott of the referendum.


This position is held by some parties like the Socialist Equality Party (SEP). The SEP casts holders of the boycott position to the left and places those who will vote remain or leave the EU to the right politically.


To this end it is argued as follows:


The “Remain and Leave campaigns are both headed by Thatcherite forces that stand for greater austerity, brutal anti-immigrant measures and the destruction of workers’ rights”. The only difference between the two campaigns is in relation to “how best to defend the interests of British capitalism against its European and international rivals under conditions of economic slump” and under circumstances that are characterized by “militarism and war”. To this end the boycott is envisioned to pave the path for the development of a real working class movement on a continental front to fight the aforesaid Thatcherite forces. This movement is envisioned in the first place to “expose the referendum as only an episode in the deepening existential crisis of the British and European bourgeoisie… and prepare workers and youth for the bitter class conflicts that will inevitably emerge following June 23.”  read more 


It is claimed that the question posed by the referendum, being should Britain “Remain” or “Leave” the EU, serves to hide the inevitable disastrous effects of each option for the people. To this end the following is instructive:


Firstly it is correctly argued that the deal struck between Cameron and the other EU leaders to remain in the EU legalizes and entrenches the UK’s “attacks of migrants” as well as “measures to protect the criminal activities of the UK’s banks and financial institutions”. read more 


Secondly it argued that should the referendum favor a vote to leave the EU, this would translate “as an endorsement of demands for British “sovereignty” and “independence”—euphemisms for removing all obstacles to the intensified exploitation of the working class and a more ruthless clampdown on immigration.”   (See link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/02/29/pers-f29.html


The problem with the aforesaid pro boycott analysis is that it does not distinguish between the first two left tendencies indicated above and hence does not see the potential of the second left tendency. It accordingly reaches a conclusion that is wrong.


Considerations for opposing the EU


The people of all of Europe, whether their countries were EU members or linked via “Association Partnerships”, are and have been on the receiving end of the EU policies. In this context their experiences continue to be characterized by the erosion of workers rights, budgetary constraints on public spending resulting in poor service delivery on basic needs of the people, and the surrendering of national sovereignty to the EU – so as to service the national debt in their respective countries. read more 


The EU supports (and in fact are directly involved in), via treaties with NATO, military invasions throughout the world which in turn have driven indigenous peoples from their war torn countries to seek refuge in Europe only to be ejected via anti refugee policies of the EU and returned to their countries of origin.  read more 


The EU is fundamentally committed to a policy of privatization, to the reversal of all the gains made by the workers, to sub-standard levels of wages and to nullifying trade union rights. Hence the support of capitalists in favour of remaining in the EU. read more


Those in the top leadership of the labour movement who are in favor of remaining in the EU “unconditionally” have conveniently selective memories in that they speak of the EU as a “haven of peace” yet don’t mention it’s links to the US-led NATO which has waged wars all over the world including in Africa, Yugoslavia as well as in the Near and Middle East. Furthermore these leaders invoke the “Social Europe” perspective to defend the stance of remaining in the EU. The EU is unapologetically anti democratic and to this end anti worker and anti the continents majority. read more


David Cameron and Donald Tusk, President of the European Council (which serves as the executive of the EU promoting its overall interests) concluded a deal that amounts to a four year ban on EU migrants workers who claim “in-work benefits”. To this end any worker from an EU member state who emigrates to Britain will be excluded for four years from the benefits “of all the social rights won by the British working class through struggle”. Furthermore this deal casts workers against each other via intensified competition. Here the intention of the EU and that of big capital in general is to stop the unhindered circulation of workers within Europe, to end their right to strike, to lower the cost of labour and to instigate reactionary violence between British and emigrant people – all in service of their own selfish interests.


In furtherance of the above anti migrant workers deal, Germany’s Minister of Labour has subsequently launched an offensive in relation to collective bargaining agreements regarding migrant workers. read more


The EU is not an instrument to unite the people of Europe amongst themselves and with the rest of the world. It instead serves to subjugate the continent of Europe to the whims of the financial markets and is a mechanism via which states compete with each other so as to sell the aspirations of the working class to the highest bidder. The EU has since the 2008 financial crisis rid itself of it’s pseudo social-welfare garb, while promoting the interests of organized international capital to utilise the crisis created by itself so as to order the regimes of its members to fall in line with its own interests.  Billions have been given to the banks as well as speculators with inbuilt austerity measures that result in employment cuts, lowering of wages and declining public service delivery regarding the basic needs of the working class. The world has witnessed how countries like Greece have been thrust into the capitalist imperialist dungeon of no return via austerity measures that have reduced their respective working classes to extreme poverty, on the command of the EU and that of the European Central Bank. These austerity measures necessarily include the most severe forms of nationalism, racism and anti immigration as scapegoats for the social upheaval created by austerity itself.


The EU played a lead role in the revisionist coup in the Ukraine. It is clear that this served to promote the remobilisation of Europe as part of the anti Russia US-led aggression. To this end NATO has realized its plans to deploy its huge forces to Eastern and Central Europe, the Baltic states, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It must be pointed out that the US is currently vigilantly increasing its nuclear weapons arsenal in Europe in line with NATO’s preparations for a joint US-EU attack on Russia. read more


European governments are pro the US agenda of imperialist aggression and in fact see this as an avenue to secure their own imperialist interests, including profiting from defence spending. Note how Britain decided to bomb Syria around the same time that Berlin took a decision to involve itself militarily in Syria in a bid to recapture Germany’s role as a military power on the world stage.  In this context it is correctly pointed out that the “tense” imperialist interests between the US and Europe including between London, Berlin and Paris regarding their role in Africa and elsewhere are instructive.  These competing interests are set to drive the whole of Europe and beyond into war. read more

The arguments of the Remain campaign


The Remain campaign has wide support from the corporate elite of Britain who view membership of EU as a necessary prerequisite to compete internationally. This process also necessitates a lowering of the living standards of the working class throughout Europe. The Remain campaign is further supported by the United States and the main European powers. It is feared by those supporting the remain vote that Brexit could serve to fast track EU’s demise and to this end compromise the NATO alliance and its agenda via “militarism and war”. It is reported that 12 former chiefs of the Defence Force are supporting the Remain campaign and in this regard have indicated the need to fight “Russian aggression”. Furthermore, they have indicated that Britain’s membership of the EU allows it via the benefits of NATO to strengthen its own security. read more


It must be stated that while EU member states may have the benefits of the security provided by NATO, such security is in furtherance of the interests of the EU and its institutions and to this end against the interests of the workers and the country’s majority.


Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the  Labour Party, argues for Britain to remain in the EU. He claims that the EU holds the hope for wealth and prosperity as well as for addressing the employment issue. He further argues that the EU can be reformed from within so as to serve the needs of the British people. He fails however to show how this is possible within the capitalist imperialist neo liberal agenda of the EU. There is in fact no possibility for reforming the EU from within. It must be remembered that the EU is already on record for its criminal activities in relation to, amongst others, Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. read more and read more


The pseudo-left groups like the Left Unity and the Scottish Socialist Party are calling for Britain to remain in the EU. These groups are correctly seen as aligning themselves with the ideological perspective including the tactical maneuvers of Podemos (Spain), Syriza (Greece) and Die Linke (Germany) regarding the way forward for Europe. read more


Criticism of the Leave campaign


It is argued that the Leave campaign is intended to serve the interests of the “City of London, whose position as a global financial centre is held out as offering the prospect of revisiting the halcyon days of empire”. In this regard “(w)hen UKIP et al. speak of leaving Europe in order to “turn out to the world”, they are asserting the right of British capital to better exploit the investment opportunities offered by countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, where the annual minimum wage ranges from £600 to slightly more than £1,000”.  Moreover, it is claimed that the successful Leave vote will  result in the rights of Britain workers being sacrificed for “national interest.” read more and read more


The above is not a concrete analysis of the concrete situation. The mistake of not seeing and distinguishing between the different tendencies who are calling for Britain to leave the EU, is what renders the conclusions reached in this regard to be incorrect. The above position is very different from that adopted by, for example, the Internationalist Rally in Paris on 28 May 2016. To this end the position adopted at the said rally suggests a rejection of the standpoint of the above position.


While it is true that a certain tendency of the Leave EU campaign is utilizing left rhetoric so as to deceptively collapse the working class agenda into right-wing initiatives, it is also true that another tendency of the same campaign is going out to realise working class and people’s aspirations within an anti capitalist, anti militarist and anti xenophobic perspective.


The opportunity that the Leave campaign provides for the removal of Cameron and what he represents cannot go unnoticed. Yes, there will be competing interests for the same office. However, the task of the tendency serving the interests of the workers and that of the country’s majority must agitate for and win this fight politically so as to ensure a state form that is fully responsive to people’s needs – while promoting true internationalism for a better world free from all forms of oppression and exploitation.




The whole world is watching the struggle of the British people with great interest. Most of Europe have already commended the courageous stand taken in this regard against the capitalist imperialist bullies of the EU. There’s clearly no possibility within the framework of the European Union to elaborate state power in the interests of the working class. To this end each of the EU member states is dictated to by the structural logic of the EU.  The EU cannot be reformed and rendered responsive. It is a killing machine. It must be stopped.


In the spirit of internationalism and solidarity with the British people who are fighting to expel EU and by extension the NATO/IMF/EU syndicate all freedom loving people’s and nations of Europe should do what British people are determined to do – Leave the EU!  Imperialism is consolidating and vigilantly pushing their agenda of calling on the people to vote Remain in the referendum. To this end it is aware that if Britain votes Leave this will strike a blow at the weakest link in the chain that keeps the EU together, heralding the beginning of the end for this institution and a significant weakening of imperialism itself. The British people are called upon by history to break the EU’s chains of oppression and call in the destruction of the institution.


Africa continues to endure the inevitable adverse effects of Structural Adjustment Plans (SAPS) of the World Bank (WB) and the International Monitory Fund (IMF) that are brought to bear upon us as a result of national debts. National debts in turn continue to grow (with each loan they say is a remedy) and thrust our people deeper and deeper into the imperialist dungeon of no return. Africa has long paid its debts many times over and are compelled to continue paying with no foreseeable end.  Africa remains indebted and enslaved.


The experience of the African leaders – who have for five decades now been used by the WB and IMF to surrender their respective states in exchange for the IMF, WB remedy – should serve as a warning as to where Britain is heading should it not break with the EU.  What Brussels offers to the British people and in fact the whole of Europe is nothing but eternal subjugation under its dictates. .


The world needs a blow to be struck on the EU, a blow that will defeat its anti people logic so as to create a new logic that will put in place an economy that puts people first.  Africans have nothing, because both Europe and America have through oppressive machinery – like the EU, IMF, WB, treaties and other arrangements emanating from world wars etc – collectively destroyed everything we owned and stood for.


The people of Britain are called upon to cut their ties with the EU and vote Leave! A new Europe is needed, a Europe that shall acknowledge the crippling and deadly effects of its policies on Africa and its peoples. Leave!




  1. “For an active boycott of the Brexit referendum!” see link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/02/29/pers-f29.html


  1. “Internationalist Rally, held in Paris on Saturday May 28th, 2016” see link: http://www.cpbml.org.uk/sites/default/files/pdf/paris.pdf)


  1. “Left Leave: Campaign for a UK left exit from the EU” in “Friends of Brexit”, see link: http://www.ukipessex.org/?p=5203)


  1. “The Brexit referendum and the struggle for socialism”, see link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/06/22/mars-j22.html


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