Why Brexit Would Be terrible for Our Campaigns for Trade, Food, Energy and Migration Justice

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Global Justice Now

Why Brexit Would Be terrible for Our Campaigns for Trade, Food, Energy and Migration Justice

(Image: Bob and Roberta Smith)

The latest polls show that the referendum battle is very close and leaving the EU could be a real possibility. While we’re critical of the way the EU currently works, we think it’s very important we stay in.

Over the past few days, we have looked at how Brexit could affect our social justice campaigns in the UK and beyond. The frightening truth is that many of our struggles for a better world would be much more difficult if we were to leave the EU.

On TTIP, the toxic trade deal between the EU and the USA, we have made substantial progress in our campaign. Alongside allies across Europe, we have managed to bring TTIP to the brink of collapse. Considering the fact that TTIP was seen as a foregone conclusion when we started this work, this is a phenomenal achievement. All of this is under threat if we leave the EU. Even if our allies defeat TTIP without us, a Boris Johnson-led government, which is a likely scenario under Brexit, would be sure to seek a bilateral US-UK deal which would almost certainly be even worse (and much harder to stop) than TTIP. Boris has openly stated that he sees CETA (the similarly toxic trade deal between Canada and the EU) as a model for future UK trade deals. Outside the EU, we will have fallen out of the TTIP frying pan and into the bilateral US-UK trade agreement fire.

On food and agribusiness, we fear that the years of work our movement has put into securing limits on food speculation may be undone if we leave. The UK was the biggest opponent of position limits, which we fought to have implemented. It is very likely that the UK would rescind this regulation if we left the EU. We are currently campaigning hard to stop glyphosate being given the green light by the EU regulators. If we leave, we expect it to be much harder to secure similar restrictions here in the UK.

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On climate change we have been very critical of the EU position in the past. But there is little doubt that outside the EU there is no chance that we will get the strong, decisive and international action that we need to cut emissions. We need action now. We cannot afford a damaging race to the bottom on climate and the environment that will very likely happen after Brexit.

On migration, victory for a Brexit campaign that has unashamedly tapped into anti-immigrant sentiment could be disastrous for anyone who doesn’t look and sound like Boris Johnson or Michael Gove. The climate of fear and insecurity that already exists for migrants from the global south will also apply to those from Europe. The UK will become a scarier place to be an immigrant.

Of course, if we wake up to a dangerous new Brexit world on Friday, we will not stop campaigning on any of these areas. We will fight tirelessly to achieve climate justice, food sovereignty, migrant rights and fair trade. But it will be even more of an uphill battle. This is why, after much soul searching and discussion within the movement, we decided to back a vote for Remain. But even if we win, Global Justice Now will fight for a better, more democratic Europe. The status quo is not sustainable.

Alex Scrivener

Alex Scrivener is the policy officer at Global Justice Now.

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