• Live
    • Audio Only
  • google plus
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • A woman reads a newspaper on the underground in London with a

    A woman reads a newspaper on the underground in London with a "vote remain" advert for the Brexit referendum. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 June 2016
Progressives have not made a strong enough case against Brexit, but might have in a different context, author and journalist Michael Carr told teleSUR.

The same day that a neo-Nazi killed Jo Cox, a member of parliament campaigning for the rights of refugees and against the exit of Britain from the European Union, the “Brexit” camp plastered the streets with signs of refugees marching with the heading “Breaking Point” in bold red.

Here's What 5 Major Leftists Think of UK Leaving the EU

Campaigning for Brexit has turned “utterly venal,” said Matthew Carr, journalist and author of " Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent," to teleSUR. Had Brexit been argued with progressive politics and launched for reasons other than David Cameron wanting to “resolve certain issues,” Carr said he might have supported leaving the EU, an institution rooted in a neoliberal agenda which came to the fore through its “disgraceful collusion” against Greece.

According to Carr, the murder of Cox—which epitomizes a rise in violent bigotry across Europe— is a symptom of the “worst political episode" he can think of in his "lifetime." Although he has critiqued the EU at length, he will vote remain.

Refugees and migrants have been placed at the center of the debate: those coming now characterized as “bad refugees,” compared to the “genuine” and “good refugees” of, say, Nazi Germany, said Carr. Racism and Islamophobia aside, most of the facts cited are false.

Anti-immigrant sentiment has a long history in Britain, as does restrictive immigration policy. Arguments that a vote for Brexit would let the country privilege refugees over European immigrants—branded an anti-racist position—or that it would help strengthen weak borders, then, do not hold for Carr.

The EU and Other Neoliberal Nightmares

Asylum policy, which is ultimately dictated by the British state, already turns away the vast majority of refugees, as seen with the thousands that have tried to cross the Channel from Calais. Brexiters also forget that about 1.2 million British-born citizens who work in other EU countries and would be subject to the immigration pains that membership wipes out.

Non-EU citizens, on the other hand, could expect a range of repercussions, none of them clear or certain since the Brexit camp has not proposed a plan and could only enact it if they hold power, said Carr. The most immediate change would be a retraction from European human rights standards, such as rules on detention.

Based on the U.K.’s already passive role in the EU, fears of Europe forcing too demanding a refugee policy are little more than rhetoric. The island already accepts one of the lowest levels of refugees: 20,000 Syrians by 2020, compared to the over 1 million that entered Europe last year. A proposal to accept only 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian children was turned down in April. Some Brexiters are also campaigning to stay in the single market, which was established on the principle of the freedom of movement of people, along with goods, capital and services.

As economically compromising as the EU might be, “for all its many failings,” Carr stressed the financial gains of immigration and the market shock that a Brexit would provoke—hurting refugees as well as British citizens. This position is shared by 10 Nobel Prize-winning economists in a recent letter to The Guardian.

Brexit—Three Scenarios

Carr’s newest book is a seething critique of Europe’s refugee policy, but he said he sides with the "remain" camp because a more humanitarian solution would come sooner in the union—which he argues is as progressive as its progressive member states and as reactionary as its reactionary member states—than in Britain, as it is now.

The European body is often critiqued for being undemocratic with most of its representatives unelected, and Carr is not hopeful about the prospect of its reform.

Still, rather than challenge the reactionary voices in the EU, a Brexit would trigger other referendums across the bloc, which Carr warned “would be a catastrophe."

“I see very few spaces for progressive politics with that kind of dismantling of the EU," he concluded.

Post with no comments.