SARAH WOOLLEY says the opportunities for the working-class outside the EU are something to celebrate
I am looking forward to March 29 2019. That’s the day we will leave the EU. We should be having street parties.
As a mum of a 13-year-old, a Labour Party member and full-time trade union official living in a once busy industrial area, I am really proud that my community, like most working-class communities in the country, and most of the members of my union, like in fact union members across the board, voted to leave.
This was a positive vote and has rocked the Establishment and everyone not on the side of workers and their families. I reckon it’s the biggest chance we’ve had to express our views since the vote at 18 was finally achieved in 1969.
All the big trade union struggles since joining the EU have been defeated. In the referendum we spoke out and won which is why they have been trying to silence our voice ever since.
We voted to create a fighting chance to rebuild our devastated economy, our industry and public services.
My generation and the ones to come want to elect politicians who will tip the balance of rights and laws back in favour of workers and trade unions and real production and wealth creation. Unelected EU commissioners and EU laws and directives, geared only to the interests of big business, cannot and never have done this.
To say that the EU is the rock on which all our workers’ rights are built is the biggest insult I have heard in my life.
EU membership and years of the Tory and New Labour politicians deliberately turned every clock in Britain back. We’ve lost two generations to the negative agenda with the banks in charge. And remember, the EU regional policies gave Germany manufacturing and Britain the finance sector. Some deal!
The result? A run-down of British industry, public services and skills on a scale never seen in the world before.
People say that facts have changed, we should have another referendum. Yes, facts have changed.
The EU has lurched to the right in its phony Parliament, it is establishing its EU army and putting together a dangerous military strategy, the euro currency is in real trouble; countries like Greece have been asset-stripped by the EU to a degree unknown in peace time, Euroscepticism has broken out all over the continent and Germany is obviously in turmoil.
As a negotiator for my union I recognise the EU’s tactics. When an employer is in a weak position they bluster and bully. And the EU has been in a weak position from day one, June 23 2016.
Britain is a net importer from the EU. They need our markets more than we need theirs. We have more trading links throughout the world and these two things worry the EU big style.
They also desperately need the ridiculous £39 billion they have been promised to shore up their overspending and their accounts which have not been audited for around 20 years, so wasteful and corrupt are the EU institutions.
Labour needs to grow up too. Voting against any deal that comes back to Parliament automatically in the hope it will lead to a general election, and in the absence of a real alternative negotiating plan, will leave the Tories in power and lose Labour the trust and confidence of communities like mine. Calling for a referendum on the deal or EU membership will reduce everyone to the daft position of Vince Cable.
The only things wrong with the British Prime Minister’s tough talk last week after the EU rejected everything out of hand, was that it was two years too late and served her right for putting silly stuff on the table.
And let’s be honest. Keir Starmer’s tests aren’t really tests for Brexit, they are attempted trip wires to upset the whole process. If you applied his tests to EU membership itself, we’d leave immediately.
There needs to be more talk of people and their needs than of trade. You can only trade if you can produce things people want to buy.
That’s why Labour’s slogan Build It In Britain is so important. We need a new education service to create the skills of a new workforce in high skilled, stable, productive jobs.
We need to make as much as possible in Britain and grow as much of our own food as possible. We need universal collective bargaining and rights at day one and an end to zero hours contracts to create the workforce capable of powering a new economy.
That’s the deal and the new real freedom we should be talking about. The hullabaloo about Brexit will come and go. We’ll be able to lift our heads again at the end of March and get on with the real work in a new way.
Sarah Woolley is a full-time official for the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union and environmental campaigner.