The working class has nothing to fear from the EU

16 June 2015

Now that the general election is over, Cameron can admit his intentions openly with respect to his in/out EU referendum: he will be calling for a "yes" vote, when the time comes.

Of course, he still has to pretend that he is seeking a "good deal for Britain in a reformed EU". After all, he needs to keep the Eurosceptic "Conservatives for Britain" faction of his party, on a short leash. This faction has already signed up 110 Tory MPs - more than enough to put him in a pickle if they choose to stage a "rebellion".

So, Cameron carries on posturing here in Britain and in every possible international forum as a champion of "EU reform". But everyone knows, himself included, that Britain just hasn't got the clout to get much out of the other 27 EU countries. So what he is looking for, is something that he can portray as a "major concession" in front of the electorate - and his own Eurosceptics - even if it's purely token.

British capital and the EU

The bottom line is that Cameron is in office to do the bosses' bidding. And if there is one thing British companies do not want, it is to lose the free access they have to the European market, which is by far their biggest.

Of course, the City wants to have its cake and eat it - i.e., wants Britain to remain in the EU, without having to pay the price for it. In particular, British bosses would like to be able to opt out of the most irritating EU regulations. And, in this respect, the problem is not the "Brussels' red-tape" which Cameron keeps going on about, but rules like the working-time and the agency workers' directives, which curtail their ability to exploit workers here.

But even if they can't get the opt-outs they wish for - and they know they are very unlikely to - they'd still prefer to remain in the EU, because, ultimately, its 500 million potential customers matter far more to them than all the minor regulatory nuisances in the world.

This was the message that the bosses' organisation, the CBI, had for the Eurosceptics. To their claim that the British economy would be better off outside the EU, its deputy director general, Katja Hall, recently replied: "While we could negotiate trade deals with the rest of the world, we'd have to agree deals with over 50 countries from scratch just to get back to where we are now, and to do so with the clout of a market of 60 million, not 500 (million)."

This, in a nutshell, is the position of British capital. It explains why so many big companies have complained about the uncertainty created by Cameron's referendum - and also, why so many of them, both British and foreign, have stated that, should Britain leave the EU, they would have to consider leaving Britain themselves.

The working class and the EU

For the working class, the issue of "Brexit" - as the media and politicians call Britain's withdrawal from the EU - is not a matter of economics. Indeed, who in his sane mind would be in favour of rebuilding barriers to the circulation of people and goods in and out of Britain, when most of the British economy has been dependent on the world economy for so long?

So what's the big hoohah around "Brexit" really about? In fact it is all to do with politics, and more specifically, the pursuit of the class war against the working class. It is about raising the banner of British nationalism and promoting the idea that there's such a thing as a "British national interest" - when, in fact, those who are using this language are simply promoting the interests of British capital.

It is in the name of this "national interest" that the working class of this country is supposed to tighten its belt, because "we're all in the same boat", as they say - that is, in the same boat as the fat-cat bankers and capitalists whose profiteering has caused the present crisis. But how can we be in their boat?

It is also in the name of this "national interest" that politicians of every description want the working class of this country to consider migrant workers - wherever they come from - as its enemies. But of course they're not!

The only enemy of the working class in this profit system is the capitalist class - British and otherwise - which lives off the exploitation of our labour here and off its looting of the poor countries and off its bloody wars. And against these class enemies, the best allies of the British working class are, precisely, the migrant workers that politicians treat as if they are criminals. The slogan of the very first working class international organisation was "workers of the world unite!". And this is exactly what we should be doing today!