With the clock ticking away towards possibly the most important vote in the history of the United Kingdom, the case for Wessex and regionalism throughout the country can be largely overlooked. Many will view regionalism as something which is totally irrelevant to the European Union, yet it is something which should be at the heart of much needed reforms within its structure.
At its 2016 Annual General assembly in Weston Super Mare, Wessex Regionalists voted overwhelmingly in favour of Britain remaining part of the European Union and supporting the European Free Alliance grouping of parties, which consists of a number of regionalists on the continent, including Mebyon Kernow and Yorkshire First here in the UK. We are of the belief another Europe is possible if we fight alongside our allies for massive reform. Such reforms would bring about a different Europe, one which is decentralised with the right to self determination, direct democracy and bringing power closer to the people.
Economically the arguments in favour of the European Union have been well documented, with the vast majority of trade within Wessex (estimated at being worth around £10 billion in exports) is carried out with the European Union. Major employers such as Airbus in Bristol, fear leaving the EU will damage trade and cause job losses, fears that are backed up with figures from leading financial experts. In addition to this, the region’s coastal and fishing communities are set to benefit from tens of millions in European funding within the next few years.
Economically, to leave would no doubt hit damage the economy in the short term at least. When the economy is hit, the asset strippers of global corporations will move in, thus placing even more ownership of our industry out of our hands. In addition to this, under the Tory exit strategy, nothing would be done to support workers who lose their jobs. This would increase poverty, social unrest and have tragic consequences. When the likes of Boris Johnson say ‘We can save all this money if we leave the EU’, the actual social cost is not taken into account. Besides, the lost time a Conservative government had a windfall in the 1980’s from North Sea oil revenue, they did not invest it in jobs, the NHS or education – all of which suffered. They chose to invest it in tax cuts for the rich and in doing so increased the greed in society. Based on the track record of the Conservative Party, and UKIP to whom many on the Tory right have fled, further tax cuts for the wealthy and high earners will take precedence over investment in job creation, education, the NHS or fighting climate change.
Despite our argument for reform and greater self determination within the EU, Wessex Regionalists also recognise tackling some of the most important issues of the 21st century involves co-operation and legislation created with our European partners. For example, as a party for environmental protection, the Wessex Regionalists see climate change as such an issue which can only be tackled by countries and regions working together and putting the planet before national interests.
Workers rights is another area where the Wessex Regionalists fear withdrawal from the European Union will see such rights being eroded under a Conservative Party exit strategy. We are a party which wishes to see continuous improvements in workers rights and living standards across Europe. Those on the right of the political spectrum supporting the ‘Leave’ campaign have continuously highlighted migration as a reason for the UK to withdraw from the EU, with some using language which is both divisive and bordering on racism. Migration (under free movement of labour) allows people to improve their standard of living as well as experiencing living and working in a different country. Through co-operation and fair distribution of funding as part of mass reform within the EU, there could be vast improvements in living standards in poorer areas, thus reducing the need for economic migration. In fact raising living standards may even see increased numbers of people from Wessex wishing to live and work overseas – something the nationalist and racist elements of the ‘Leave’ campaign wish to ignore.
We have highlighted the different Europe we envisage as part of mass reforms within the EU, all of which is possible through the election of progressive politicians to the European and national parliaments. However we also recognise differences in the ‘Leave’ camp. Those on the right of the political spectrum have based their exit strategy more or less on immigration and nationalistic issues and in doing so stirred up the most repulsive elements of non-progressive patriotism. Whilst they claim they wish to trade with the rest of the world (which we still do anyway) some would like to see greater ties with the United States (and therefore support a UK –US form of the TTIP agreement) or even for the ‘good ship Britannia’ to sail alone on an almost segregationist path which would lead to long term economic ruin. For many in the ‘Leave’ camp, a narrow minded, little-Englander mentality exists where breaking ties with ‘Johnny Foreigner’ outweighs all else.
The left exit campaign (Lexit) is largely built on greater internationalism as well as self determination. However this will not form any part of an exit strategy which will be dictated by an anti-socialist, anti internationalist Conservative government. Therefore ‘Lexit’ does not really exist, apart from within the pages of the far left press and minds of people such as Arthur Scargill. There are others very much on the hard left, who would like to see a ‘Socialist Sates of Europe’, possibly with increased centralisation reminiscent of the worst planning aspects of the former USSR.
Many people have, quite rightly, condemned the scaremongering by both sides in the EU debate. Yet there is one fact which is very true. The only people that will take us out of the European Union is the very far right of the Conservative Party. Their record is one that does not care about workers rights, human rights, the environment, the NHS, the unemployed or others dependent on a welfare state they are ideologically opposed to. Can we honestly trust such a party to do have the final say on what is the possibly the most important decision this country has ever had to make?
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