AEIP-national-tour-map-v2MP Caroline Lucas, one of the speakers at the cross-party Birmingham rally which filled the large meeting house and both galleries, said:

“Like Westminster, EU institutions are not perfect. The EU must become more democratic, and more accountable to the citizens of Europe.

“But to secure these changes, we need to stay in the EU and fight for meaningful reform. Another Europe is Possible – but only if we make it so.”

Another supporter, Nick Matthews (right) from Coventry University’s Business School, chairman of West Midlands Co-operative Council and Co-operatives UK, has expressed AEIP’s belief that progressives throughout the continent can and will, given time, change the political and economic deficits at the heart of the Union. It is summarised below.

nick-matthews2In his last book of essays titled Inventing the Enemy Umberto Eco implies that every country, every people need an external enemy to unite them and give them a sense of who they are by defining who they are not. For me this is particularly relevant to the EU which for some people is the omnipotent other that controls their lives from afar. To which we can attribute everything we do not like about our lives.

This is a fantasy possible because the real problem with the EU is its weakness not its strength. Most people give up trying to understand what it actually does and how it actually works because of the EU’s secret weapon — it is boring.

When I was younger I worked for five years as a research assistant for a Euro-MP. I sadly understand all the institutions and most of the treaties and know my way around the European infrastructure.

There is no doubt that the EU has many flaws. The most important of course being its anti-democratic nature and a structure which enables multinational capital to run rings around democratic governments and is, probably, driving the split in the Tory party over domestic/national capital.

For me any conceivable position outside the EU is worse than the one we currently occupy. The Norwegian and Swiss options leave us in the single market and in Schengen with no voice on any of the rules and regulations.

In some ways the EU has been a modernising force in British politics, bringing us regulations and directives that have had a direct impact upon the free movement of workers and inequality between men and women. The main benefit of these measures is that they can combat certain forms of discrimination — while of course trying to make the labour market as competitive as possible.

The European tragedy, however, is the overall neoliberal economic policy which has greatly contributed to its current malaise, which has been replicated in spades here in Britain.

For me the economics makes little difference — in or out — without a significant change in policy. The issue then comes down to politics. There is no doubt for me that Brexit leads to Boris Johnson as prime minister and his vision of a deregulated free-market Britain and a triumph for Nigel Farage on a tidal wave of xenophobia.

At a time when all my friends in Europe want us to stay and work with them to reform the EU and help tackle the devastating crisis of migration, which I feel Britain is partly responsible for, leaving feels like an act of betrayal. That is why I am joining John McDonnell and his demand for a Europe of solidarity, workers’ rights and environmental justice in supporting Another Europe is Possible.

Utopian? Possibly, but less unattractive than the alternative of blaming the EU for all our problems when we are the EU. Of blaming it when we should be blaming ourselves for policies our own government supported but kept quiet about.

The real challenge for us “remainers,” however, is to admit the future we seek is a federal democratic Europe one which allows small nations to flourish, welcomes Scotland and Catalonia and sees an end to the fantasy of London as an imperial capital. I reject the binary choice of Brussels business as usual or a retreat into nationalism. We need to bring transparency to the EU’s current institutions and to build towards a new constitution creating a genuine European democracy with a sovereign parliament.

I am a European.

Read his article in full here.