Freedom of movement is a principle worth fighting for

Following the Labour leader’s recent statement, Left Unity Principal Speaker, Joseph Healy said:

“Left Unity welcomes the move by the leader of the Labour Party towards accepting the Customs Union. This is essential for both the economic wellbeing of this country and also for ensuring that there is no hard border in Ireland. However, a number of major concerns remain about Labour’s new position.

Firstly, despite Jeremy Corbyn’s very welcome warm words on immigration, the fact remains that without joining the Single Market, there will be no more Freedom of Movement for UK citizens in the EU or for EU citizens coming to the UK. Left Unity steadfastly supports the principle of Freedom of Movement and believes that by ignoring it, Labour is making concessions to backward attitudes within the working class and trade union movement. We maintain that Freedom of Movement is a principle worth fighting for.

We also very much share Jeremy Corbyn’s view that the EU is not a bed of roses and needs fundamental reform. But by refusing to join the Single Market and using the baseless excuse that this would prevent state funding of industries etc, the baby is being effectively thrown out with the bath water and free movement of people across the EU abandoned. France and Germany have already indicated that nationalisation of industry is possible under the terms of the Single Market.

Finally, Jeremy Corbyn’s point about negotiations around the Customs Union, while demonstrating a greater willingness to negotiate with the EU, also suggests a British exceptionalism which is not going to be welcomed by the other countries in the EU. A willingness to join the Customs Union without preconditions would have been a more logical step.

The political necessity of challenging the Tory Hard Brexit in the forthcoming Commons vote is obvious and Labour has acted to do that. But Labour still has to move in a more radical and socialist direction, away from the notion of ‘Socialism in one country’ and more towards the vision of a workers’ Europe.”

Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.

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Confronting the Rise of the Far Right, European Conference

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Bloomsbury Central, 235 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8EP.

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