The Labour Party believes that “through the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we achieve alone”.
Our guiding principle is that working people can only achieve progress through banding together. Or, to put it more simply: united we stand, divided we fall.
The European Union is an expression, however imperfect, of this principle.
We are a small island of around 65 million people in a world of 7.5 billion people.
Banding together with other European countries, we are part of a much larger group of 500 million people with combined economies of such a size that the rest of the world has to take us seriously.
Do we really think that, if we cut ourselves off from the continent, we can realistically put up a strong economic defence against the likes of the USA, China and Russia?
I have heard people say: “well we used to before”. But we also used to have an Empire and Britannia ruled the waves.
If anyone got uppity and tried to stop trading with us on our terms we sent in a gun boat to bombard their capital, blockaded their ports and threatened to starve them out.
The EU sets basic standards that all member countries have to follow. In the 70’s and 80’s Spain was a safe haven for British murderers, bank robbers and drug dealers on the run from the law because there was no extradition treaty. Now the European Arrest Warrant means criminals can swiftly be brought back to Britain to face justice.
There is a belief that if we come out of Europe we won’t have the EU “telling us what to do” and from then on we’ll have our own way on everything.
But instead it would be the financial markets “telling us what to do”. In 1992 Britain was forced out of the ERM. Whether you agreed with us being in or not, this was a decision made by a sovereign British government but it stood for nothing because the speculators had more money than the Government.
Only by being in the EU can we have a hope of standing up to the power of global markets.
And it’s not just “markets”, but multi-national companies that would be bossing us about.
There is a global race to the bottom in employment standards and consumer rights. If we try to improve them on our own, then large companies will threaten to pull out of Britain.
But they can’t threaten to pull out of the whole of the EU because it is too big.
So the EU has been able to force mobile phone companies to end rip-off roaming charges which would have been virtually impossible for a single country to achieve.
And it’s why we have EU guarantees of minimum paid leave, maternity and paternity pay, equal treatment for agency and part time workers and protections for workers when companies are sold.
When Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith talk about getting rid of European red tape, this is what they are talking about. Instead of Sports Direct being a rogue company, its working conditions will become the norm.
Generations of British workers have fought hard to gain these rights and the Tories are itching to get rid of them.
If we vote to leave the EU they will get their opportunity.