I'm 19 years old, a student, mixed race and female. For all of these reasons, I am staunchly anti-hatred. I am also pro-Brexit, or more specifically pro-'Lexit' (left-wing exit of the EU) – and no, that’s not a contradiction in terms. However, in the last week I’ve been disheartened to see so many of my fellow left-wing Brexiteers abandon their position. It’s a dream we’ve held for so long – so why are we allowing ourselves to be frightened out of a principled position?
I thought we had it all figured out. It was time to do away with the EU and with it the iron grasp of Merkel, bureaucrats and big business in order to make our own way on a march towards a fair and free Britain for all. Less than a week before the nation takes to the polls to cast their vote on British membership to the EU, I am overcome, as the British left backtracks to surrender to fear and denounce the Lexit they had weeks, even days ago, leant their support to - for Greece, against TTIP and for the good of the British people.
The nation's pre-election jitters come worryingly late. Many view the failure of the left to advance its own meaningful campaign for Lexit as reason to believe that Remain is the only sensible choice. The sentiment is simple, well-intentioned and for many heartfelt. But it's a trap.
A vote for Brexit is not a vote for the Brexit campaign, at large taken over by right-wing voices who say things that are absolutely antithetical to socialist beliefs. The narrative goes that Brexiteers are thinly veiled racists pushing a xenophobic campaign – but that’s all it is: a narrative. It is subject to change or can be rewritten entirely - especially on a national level when change is already occurring.
It’s deceptively simple to believe that the face of Remain is a good-hearted anti-racist poised for a victory of love over hate. We would do well to remember that the actual EU is a group of powerful bureaucrats stuffed inside a neo-liberal institution, who are poised to sign TTIP – the terrifying EU-US trade deal that threatens so much of what we stand for as a socialist country.
The problem is the same regardless of the outcome on June 23rd: a right-wing enemy. But the problem with Remain is that it appears to the public that there is no enemy and the good has won, as the hyper-capitalist mechanisms of the EU machine keep churning, far off in Brussels.
What exactly will Remain do to loosen or reverse the hold of anti-immigration, pro-austerity policies (stretching far further back than any talk of the EU and shared on a cross-party basis) and sentiment in the UK? Nothing, but a vote for Remain will strengthen David Cameron in victory and leave him free to implement the same policies it is feared he would upon Brexit, alongside TTIP as an extra EU sweetener. The tide of right-wing sentiment and anti-immigration racism won't die down as a result of Brexit.
Those on the left who fear Brexit fear that the loudest voice of the far right is winning, but to vote Remain is to muffle our own voices on behalf of the opposition. If the pro-austerity, pro-hate and anti-immigration ideological hegemony of the right-wing is the sole justification for why you stand against Brexit, then ask yourself why you are so willing to give into fear. The EU has its own distasteful ideology, and if you vote to remain within it, you can’t vote for a different institution in four years’ time. Bringing power back to our country is the first step in bringing power back to the people. If you vote for Remain, you strangle that possibility before it can even be born.
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