Left Foot Forward view: Britain is more progressive in Europe

We will continue to make the positive case for Remain in the weeks ahead


An overwhelming body of evidence supports the UK’s membership of the European Union, as do all the progressive parties and the majority of trade unions.

As a progressive, evidence-based blog, Left Foot Forward will continue to make the positive case for Remain in the weeks ahead.

On the core concerns of progressive voters — equality, worker’s rights, the environment, the economy — the EU has led the world, and often forced Britain to become a better version of itself.

While many people are understandably tired of the statistical war of attrition being waged by both campaigns, it is beyond question that the UK economy would be hit extremely hard by Brexit. According to the most optimistic of short term forecasts, national income would slide by 2.1 per cent by 2019.

That loss would be passed directly to the public, with the potential for increased labour taxation, deepening cuts, job losses and an extension of already devastating austerity policies.

The Leave campaign cannot brush off the damage Brexit would do to families and communities across the country and so they have, in recent weeks, dialled up their rhetoric on immigration.

We reject the idea that the economy and immigration can be separated in this debate. Unless Britain accepts some degree of free movement it simply cannot maintain its access to the single market.

And drastically reducing the number of people coming to the EU — as the government’s absurd net migration target requires — will create skills shortages and significant fiscal pressures.

We reject the idea that Eastern European migrants are to blame for the pressure on our public services. The blame lies squarely with the Tory government.

Moreover, European free movement changes and enriches people’s lives, just as it changes and enriches British and European society.

Unfortunately, while the EU defends its founding commitment to free movement within its borders, it has shown breathtaking indifference and inhumanity towards the record-breaking numbers of refugees pressing at the edges of the continent.

We will continue to call for a more humane and effective refugee response, but ultimately the crisis can only be addressed by collective European action.

Currently, the UK is not playing any meaningful role in the European response, refusing to relocate any of the hundreds of thousands of people stranded in Italian and Greek camps. A Brexit vote would fuel such isolationism.

As an evidence-based outlet, we are also committed to calling out the manipulations and misrepresentations of the Leave campaign.

Britain does not send £350 million a week to the EU, European migrants do not drag down the wages of British workers and — outside the mind of Boris Johnson — the aims of the Remain campaign bear no resemblance to those of the Nazis.

In fact, the UK only pays £163 million a week to the EU, which more than pays itself back in economic and social dividends. European migrants are also more likely to be in work and less likely to claim out-of-work benefits than UK residents, thereby paying taxes that help to pay for British schools, hospitals and pensions.

In recent months the leaders of the Leave campaign — and in particular Boris Johnson and Michael Gove — have amply demonstrated that they are not fit to lead the country in the event of a Leave vote.

They won’t increase NHS funding, they won’t cut taxes for the poor, they won’t build much-needed housing or save the steel industry and they won’t create a more democratic Britain.

Rather, they can be expected to hand ever-increasing power to corporations, strip away hard-won worker’s rights and continue to support an anti-democratic electoral system.

There is no question that the EU needs reform — and we will continue to host discussions about what that should look like — but the changes that will improve the lives of people in Britain and around the world are vastly more likely to be won through the EU than from the Tory government.

Ultimately, this is a referendum that should never have been called and, however we vote on 23 June, the public will bear the costs of this Tory vanity project.

But since it is taking place, Left Foot Forward will continue to provide evidence-based analysis of why we are better off, stronger and more progressive in the EU.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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2 Responses to “Left Foot Forward view: Britain is more progressive in Europe”

  1. Pete

    More progressive ? We’ve the Tories in Westminster, a Tory Commissioner. 14 other Commissioners are Conservatives, 3 are Conservative Liberals, there’s hardly any left wing influence in the Commission at all and it’s supposed to be more progressive and protecting us from the Tory government ?

    The Good King vs Bad Parliament argument has been tested to destruction and Tony Benn was absolutely right. It’s better to have a Bad Parliament as at least you’ll be able to kick out those who rule you.

    Vote leave.

  2. Mike Stallard

    Niamh, as you are an Irish lady, I understand your keen desire for your adopted country (UK) to remain in the EU. Otherwise all your arguments are negative ones.
    The EU is quite openly on a path to ever closer union. It is also firmly going to be based and led by the Eurozone. Its economy has fallen badly behind, as M. Juncker openly admits, and unemployment, especially youth unemployment, is at record levels. Greece is broke, Italian banks in debt and teachers are being laid off in their thousands in the Baltic States. Your own country is without a strong government as the people turn away from the European consensus.
    Immigration – unlimited world immigration – is not something which we need.
    Why not go back and live in the EU where you came from?

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