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Expert View

Time to consign ‘Lexit’ to dustbin

by Denis MacShane | 30.01.2018

Denis MacShane is a former Minister of Europe and was a Labour MP for 18 years.

On Bastille Day 2015, Owen Jones, the likeable energetic campaigner for left causes, offered British politics via his Guardian column a new word, “Lexit” –  the left-wing case for exiting the EU. Although by referendum day, Jones had recanted and was not on the same battle bus as Labour MP Gisella Stuart and Boris Johnson, the damage had been done.       

Echoes of Jones’ arguments can be heard from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell as they claim that EU rules would prevent nationalisation or other left-wing economic policies and that state-aid rules don’t allow democratic control of investment. Another Lexit line from Corbyn is that quitting the EU is needed to control Europeans coming to work in the UK.

Now in the most comprehensive demolition of Lexit ever produced, a group of elected Labour politicians, highly respected trade union leaders and environmentalists have told fans of Lexit that everything they have been told is factually wrong. Two of Labour’s next generation women leaders, Heidi Alexander from south London and Merseyside’s Alison McGovern, have edited a new pamphlet, Busting the Lexit Myths, which buries the case for Lexit.

John Monks is the most respected trade unionist in recent times. A former general secretary of the TUC, he takes apart the argument that the UK will win better trade deals outside the EU. Tom Burke, former director of Friends of the Earth, points out that the EU has massively raised environmental standards from clean beaches to the latest ban on plastic bags. A Lexit would hand control over environmental standards to bottom-line lobbyists hiring ex cabinet ministers to prevent UK-only green measures.

Richard Corbett, leader of Labour’s MEPs, explains how there are many tools available to the government to manage more intelligently the workings of the UK labour market – similar to what other northern EU countries do – so as to promote jobs for British workers and reduce the arrivals from Europe.

This is a well-timed intervention as more and more Labour MPs feel let down by the way the Labour leadership hugs Theresa May so close. There are also 6,500 Labour councillors who know the benefits of EU membership and the dangers of quitting the single market and customs union. The Labour-led Hammersmith and Fulham Council voted to back a new referendum last week.

Labour voters also want a say on the deal the government finally clinches with the EU by a majority of over three to one, according to an ICM poll. Labour-held marginals also strongly support a new vote. The claims by shadow cabinet ministers that they dare not oppose the so-called “will of the people” ring increasingly hollow.

Lexiters have spent four decades wrongly believing that being in Europe was inimical to progressive politics. Now next generation Labour are saying it is time to explain to working people that isolating Britain from Europe is a one-way ticket to more poverty and less money for public services, as the government’s own secret analysis makes clear.

Will Corbyn listen?

Edited by Hugo Dixon

4 Responses to “Time to consign ‘Lexit’ to dustbin”

  • The fallacy of ‘Lexit’ is that left wing Brexiters have had no say whatsoever in the type of Brexit they voted for….or more accurately the type of Brexit they thought they voted for.

    Just who has made all the running regarding euroscepticsm over the past 40 years or so? It has been hard-right Tories, ukip bigots and media commentators such as Bill Cash, John Redwood, Nigel Farage and Norman Tebbit. More recently they have been joined by the likes of Kwarsi Kwarteng, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab, a group of ultra hard-right Tories who all contributed to a book, ‘Britannia Unchained’ labelling British workers as ‘lazy’ and ‘idlers’.

    Hardly types many on the left would wish to be associated with. And yet they clearly are via Brexit. Do ‘Lexit’ voters really think hard-line Brexit campaigners such as the above mentioned want government regulation to protect consumers and workers. Or a slashing of ‘red tape’ to do the opposite? Do they think the above Brexiters want British workers to compete with those in Germany, Belgium and Ireland? Or those in Ghana, Bangladesh and India? And do they think the above support renationalisation of key industries? Or further outsourcing and sell offs?

  • ” Busting the Lexit Myth ” is a remarkable document and should be given massive distribution. The case it makes for staying in the Single Market and Customs Union is I am sure unanswerable though of course the Brexiteers will continue to deny it all.

    It is true that the matters dealt with in the report are highly technical and demonstrate just how dangerous and foolish it was for Cameron to initiate a referendum on the subject.

    It should be noted that the report does not deal with the geo-political implications of leaving the European Union nor does it emphasize the enormous contribution of the EU to creating and maintaining conditions for a lasting peace in Europe.

  • This should be distributed more widely that the “lexit” crowd, rename it and send it to the tories and their supporters.
    Why not develop this into a TV documentary program that takes all the myths and provides the facts using EU constitutional experts etc and not politicians – debates are useless unless you have an expert on hand to ring the bell when someone lies.

  • Neoliberal troughers state that their unreformable neoliberal gravy train won’t stop Socialism while their political records show that they have done everything to prevent Socialism.

    Nothing to see here…..