Left progressives launch Alternative Mandate for post-Brexit Britain

There's 13 demands, addressing areas like human rights, workers and trade

Key left wing players have launched their ‘Alternative Mandate’ for post-Brexit Britain today.

The mandate puts forward radical demands on thirteen areas, including human rights, migration and trade.

It comes as left progressives unite to warn against the “shock doctrine” moment if the current Tory plans are allowed to go ahead.

Campaign group, Another Europe is Possible (AEIP), launched the Alternative Mandate today as concerns grow around the “real danger this government will try to use the Covid crisis and the very possible resulting recession as a shock doctrine”.

Speaking on the need for everyone on the left to act, Michael Chessum from AEIP said “An opportunity for [the government] is a danger to the rest of us – to workers, migrants and the planet.”

While we are in the middle of a pandemic, this does not remove the fact Brexit has happened and we have left the European Union. Brexit negotiations have been ongoing throughout the coronavirus crisis and the Brexit transition period is set to end in December.

There are some very immediate issues to address, such as the rights of EU nationals and vital protections for human rights, workers and the environment. In the longer term, every part of the UK economy and society is on the table, with a US trade deal being a possibility.

Campaigners believe the left must come together to put pressure on the current negotiations and set out a positive long-term vision.

This was the motivation behind the group’s 13 demands as set out in the Mandate.

13 demands

  1. International cooperation to tackle the global health crisis, including permanent membership of the European Medicines Agency and public ownership of pharmaceuticals
  2. Migrants’ rights, including an automatic ‘right to stay’ for EU nationals, the right to vote and continued free movement
  3. Combatting the climate crisis, including tougher legally binding targets
  4. Environmental protections, including keeping pace with EU regulations 
  5. Workers’ rights – levelling up, rather than levelling down, workplace protections
  6. Human rights, including continued membership of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and protection of the Human Rights Act
  7. Wide-ranging reform of the democratic system, including decentralisation of power and proportional representation
  8. Consumer protections, food standards and animal rights 
  9. Protecting jobs and communities, including a clampdown on tax avoidance and no loss of jobs and conditions in the Brexit process
  10. Agriculture and fishing, including new progressive system of agriculture subsidies and fishing quotas
  11. International trade, including opposition to a deregulatory US trade deal
  12. Science research and culture funding, including full UK participation in European schemes like ERASMUS, the European Research Council and science programmes
  13. Global development and international solidarity, including curbing arms exports and a new progressive development policy.

A range of key individuals have publicly backed the Alternative Mandate, the full document of which can be found here.

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South said “Everything is now at stake, and unless we apply some pressure, we are going to face yet another disaster. 

“There is a real danger this government will try to use the Covid crisis and the very possible resulting recession as a shock doctrine. One they can use to reshape our society around a trade deal with Donald Trump. That could mean a permanently deregulated economy, lower standards and worse wages and rights.

“All the things we said were likely should Brexit be successful. There is almost no popular support for such an approach. That means we need to make ourselves heard – both  about the dangers such a trade deal represents but also our own alternative vision for a radically different future and what it would like.”

Sarah Woolley, general secretary of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, explained as a union, they supported Leave in the 2016 referendum.

However she explained:  “We never backed a Brexit that would hit jobs and workers’ rights, and neither did millions of Leave voters. This government is hell-bent on using Brexit to deregulate the economy and attack workers, and blaming migrants for the consequences.

“Now that we’ve left the EU, it is essential that the labour movement and the left unites around a set of demands to defend working class people.”

Pointing out how Covid-19 has impacted Brexit negotioations, Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party of England and Wales said: “It might feel like Coronavirus has eclipsed Brexit. In fact, it has raised the stakes even further.

“Profiteers and polluters are already circling overhead, ready to swoop in and strip the bones of our public services and our natural world. Now more than ever, we need a positive vision for the century ahead, where we build back better across borders.”

Mr Chessum added: “All over the world, the nationalist right is in government and will look to exploit the economic crisis that is to come. In the UK, they see a huge opportunity in being able to use the Brexit process to deregulate the economy in an unprecedented way, while at the same time waging war against migrants’ rights and human rights more generally.

“An opportunity for them is a danger to the rest of us – to workers, migrants and the planet. Everyone on the left – regardless of what position they took on Brexit – now has a responsibility to resist this agenda. We cannot wait until the next election to act, because by then it may be too late.”

Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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