Corbyn forges new European left alliance to oppose Cameron’s EU stance

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn © Andrew Yates
UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to form an international alliance with left anti-austerity parties in the European Parliament to curtail some parts of David Cameron’s renegotiations with Brussels after the in-out referendum.

Corbyn told The Independent on Sunday that a socialist alliance in the European Parliament would embrace Greece’s Syriza and Spain’s Podemos to push for “far-reaching progressive reform” across the EU after Britain’s in-out referendum scheduled for June 23.

“To make those changes we need to be at the heart of an alliance for change with left-of-center and progressive parties and movements across Europe,” he said.

“Labour is making allies for real reform in Europe with the Party of European Socialists and other European parties across the broad left, while the Tories are isolating themselves.”

Earlier, the Labour leader was said to have raised this issue with other Europe’s socialist parties sitting in the European Parliament. According to the newspaper, he has urged the Party of European Socialists, of which Labour is a member, to forge deeper alliances with parties to the left of them, including the United Left group.

This group includes the German Die Linke party – that largely evolved from East Germany’s communist party – and Ireland’s Sinn Fein.

The Labour leader said he wanted an end to EU-backed austerity regime and rules designed to enforce market competition, including parts of the giant EU-US free trade deal backed by David Cameron’s cabinet.

The prime minister’s EU negotiations with Brussels focused on economic and financial demands, with immigration and welfare being the hottest points of his in-out agenda. In a letter to European Commission President Donald Tusk, shared by the Guardian in November 2015, Cameron wrote that his cabinet is allergic to “high pressures” brought by immigrants on “our schools, our hospitals and our public services.” The letter also demanded “trade liberalization, single market extension and deregulation.”

A vocal austerity critic, Corbyn has said several times he is supporting the “In” option, arguing that the EU brought investments and jobs for workers and consumers in Britain. The European Union, in his words, is a core framework for cooperation and trade in the 21st century.

But he stressed there is a need to see real EU reform to ensure it “works for working people” and includes more democracy, safeguarding workers’ rights and stopping enforced privatization of public services.

The Labour leader was also highly critical of Cameron’s EU talks. Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions last week, he attacked the in-out negotiations and described them as a "theatrical sideshow." He claimed the issue had been reduced to an argument about cutting benefits for migrants.

Corbyn added that during his previous visit to Brussels, a socialist colleague had told him: "We are discussing the future of a continent and one English Tory has reduced it to the issue of taking away benefits from workers and children."

Capitalism is becoming less popular with Britons, while the popularity of socialism is on the rise, a recent YouGov survey has revealed. The poll found that 33 percent of the nearly 4,000 adults surveyed responded that they had a favorable view of capitalism, opposed to the 39 percent saying they viewed it negatively.