Mason on Europe

Much as it pains me to say so, I think Paul Mason has no better idea what to do about Europe than the Tories. He rightly points to their confusion but what does he offer instead? He makes a pitch for membership of the single market à la Norway plus an emergency immigration brake. And if that doesn’t work, he will settle for John McDonnell’s ‘red lines’: access to the single market, maintaining labour market standards and membership of the European investment bank. Tony Blair makes more sense than this. He says why would anybody swap peripheral (Norwegian) links to Europe which means accepting all the contributions and rules but comes with none of the influence of actual membership?

Mason is treating ‘Europe’ as if it were an economic question. It isn’t. It is a political one. For Brexiteers it is about immigration, national identity, and independence. On the left it should be about asserting democratic control over the economy, creating political alliances to challenge the way the Euro exacerbates divisions between countries and regions, and to challenge the neo-liberal austerity that sits behind it.

Inviting the Brits to seek economic advantages from membership of the single market irrespective of the political issues that trouble them (notwithstanding postures on immigration), or ought to trouble them, is to anticipate a defeat as significant as the vote to ‘leave’.

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