UK govt driving EU's democratic deficit but Brexit would derail vital reform – UK charity

© Stefan Wermuth
British government policy has played a key role in heightening the EU’s democratic deficit by prioritizing the interests of high finance over those of ordinary people, a leading social justice group has said.

UK charity Global Justice Now (GJN) made the remark in a briefing published on Friday, which argues Britain’s EU membership is a key requirement for “progressive social change.”

While many groups and commentators campaigning against a Brexit focus on perceived security and economic advantages of the UK’s EU membership, GJN says a vote for the UK to remain in the bloc will aid the pan-European fight against inequality, austerity and climate change.

'Better in than out'

The charity argues that remaining part of the EU will allow Britain to work with civil society groups, progressive politicians and key social movements across the European stage.

Central to its briefing on the June 23 referendum, is the claim that Britain has played a significant role in pushing the EU down an anti-democratic path. The group says flawed policies concerning tax dodging and migration, as well as the highly controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are key in this context.

GJN laid out five core arguments against a Brexit. The charity said Brits can only change the EU if they are part of it, Britain’s EU membership has yielded “better regulation” and “workers’ rights,” and cross-border issues like climate change, tax injustice and the worst refugee crisis seen since WWII cannot be addressed by solitary nation states.

Other core arguments against a Brexit included the claim that progressive campaign work in the UK would be badly affected by Britain's withdrawal from the EU, and the UK's relationship with progressive networks and alliances across Europe bent on reform would be jeopardized if Britain forfeited its membership of the bloc.

Corporate capture of EU

Nick Dearden, director of GJN, said the EU has been captured by corporate interests and requires radical reform. He warned trade deals like TTIP, currently being negotiated in Brussels behind closed doors, is a symptom of this trend. He also said EU actors, which are forcing Greece to continue with highly unsustainable debt repayments, have hurtled the Greek economy into a deep depression.

“Outside the EU we will be forced to compete against, and undercut, other European countries. Inside, we can work with the millions of other Europeans to change the way it works from the bottom up,” Dearden said.

“We know the EU is captive to corporate interests, pushing toxic trade deals, forcing Greece into a horrific depression, fuelling climate change. This all needs to change.

“But we also know that the British government has made the EU more corporate, standing up for the interests of the City rather than ordinary people.”

Dearden went on to describe what a progressive EU would look like, as he saw it.

“We can create a Europe which protects the environment, which responds to the needs of ordinary people, which takes its international responsibilities seriously,” he said.

“But we have to stay in to achieve this.”

Brexit battle

Pro and anti-Brexit campaigners locked in a battle for supremacy were recently accused of distorting the truth ahead of Britain’s EU referendum, as Project Fear’s scepter of spin continues to blend fact with fiction.

Academics and fact checkers issued this warning in a study published on Monday, which deconstructs arguments made for and against a Brexit.

The report concluded that Britain’s ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ campaigns are spreading disinformation as the June 23 vote draws closer. The study uncovered multiple myths peddled by campaigners on both sides of the Brexit battle line, and warned that UK citizens are being “bombarded” with conflicting information that is either not backed up by evidence or is simply untrue.

Brits vented anger last week over US President Barack Obama’s warning that a Brexit would push Britain to the “back of the queue” as far as trade deals with Washington were concerned.

Obama made the comment while speaking at a joint briefing in London alongside UK Prime Minister David Cameron after a clandestine meeting at 10 Downing Street.

Cameron, who is a vocal supporter of the ‘Remain’ campaign, said that Britain’s membership of the EU gives policy makers “a powerful tool to deliver on the prosperity and security that our people need.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is backing a Brexit, later hit back at Obama and Cameron’s intervention, saying Britain’s pro-EU campaigners would be wrong to think it had bombed the 'Leave' campaign “into submission.”

The militant Eurosceptic-come-London-mayor said anti-Brexit campaigners were “crowing too soon,” while “ignoring the resilience and thoughtfulness” of many undecided voters.

Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said in early March that Britain would be better off leaving the EU if TTIP is implemented. Addressing crowds gathered in central London, he said the restrictive nature of the trade deal offers clear grounds for a Brexit.