Brexit: Flag of EU with Big Ben in the hole

We should use the Brexit process to talk about what matters to us rather than what’s good for British business in terms of trade, access to markets and regulations.

That’s the corporate agenda, which is the priority for all the major political parties.  Why not set our own agenda? Why be dictated to as to what a post-Brexit Britain should look like?

There’s a huge gap that the Real Democracy Movement could help fill with some positive, progressive options and visions.

There are remarkable similarities between the UK and the European Union. Both are neo-liberal states which favour open markets and competition at the expense of jobs, wages and working conditions.

Far from protecting workers’ rights, the EU is moving in the opposite direction.  A new European Commission proposal is set to entrench the dangerous investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system.

The proposal would create a kind of special court for corporations which would tie governments even more tightly into a legal regime where private profits trump the public interest and democracy.

Clearly many who voted for Brexit did so because of the impact of neo-liberalism on their lives, jobs and communities. Leaving the EU still leaves us with the small matter of corporate power in the UK and their grip on the political process.

In response to Brexit, naturally the Tories won’t address neo-liberalism – which is another term for corporate-driven globalisation. How can they? As the ruling class party, the Tories are at one with this set-up.

So they are embarking on a mission to sort of recreate the days when Britain’s imperial and military might gave her access to markets and goods. This wild dream could only succeed by driving living standards down to rock bottom.

To make this work, they are proposing to give themselves draconian powers to alter legislation without the approval of Parliament in the so-called Great Repeal Bill which incorporates EU law into UK law. This would use what are known as “Henry VIII powers”, aka legislation by proclamation.

An agenda for a fairer, more equal post-Brexit Britain could look something like this:

  • Start to take control (rather than take back control, which we’ve never had) through a series of citizens conventions on the constitution to discuss a new democratic framework for the UK, including self-determination for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Create a network of Citizens Assemblies that could begin to create a new kind of democratic system of government to replace the existing, hollowed-out democracy
  • Develop with experts alternative economic models based on co-operation and co-ownership rather than profit, creating sustainable production that is part of the fight against climate change
  • Work out how to redistribute resources to create a more balanced, fairer economy with earnings that sustain a proper standard of living and affordable infrastructure like public transport
  • Prioritise the funding of public services like the NHS and create a massive programme of affordable housing for a new generation
  • Establish a clear set of principles that opposes racism, the demonisation of minorities and refugees and foreign workers.

The alternative to Brexit is not remaining in the EU. This is a bureaucratic and undemocratic institution that is a long way from its founding principles of creating harmony in Europe.

The alternative to Brexit is real democracy – in every country, that respects self-determination and ends the power of the corporatocracy. That should be our agenda over the next couple of years.