Courtesy of opendemocracy.net, here is the transcript of my speech of 29th January at the House of Commons. The theme? How should Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party secure a progressive Brexit consistent with a socialist agenda for the UK but also with DiEM25’s campaign to democratise Europe.
The main reason I am here, I believe – I’m going to add back into Chuka’s account a few wrinkles that he omitted out of kindness I suspect – is because I was prepared to advocate a Marxist case for the Norway agreement.
As a declared Corbynista and someone who could never be considered a lapdog for the EU but who dedicated every sinew I possess at the time to campaigning against Brexit – nevertheless I am here to present to you the case for what I call ‘Norway plus’ from a leftwing perspective, portrayed as an opportunity to do that which we progressives have been failing to do in the last year and a half, which is the following.
Let’s face it – here in this room we are reeling from a massive defeat in June 2016. We are deflated. A lot of what I have heard is correct but nevertheless defensive. It is as if I am hearing again the arguments which should have been heard loudly before the referendum! Let’s not keep fighting yesterday’s war.Let’s not keep fighting yesterday’s war.
I am in favour of a second referendum, but not one that annuls the first one. As a democrat I cannot stand up in front of an audience in Leeds or Doncaster or Clacton-on-Sea, look in the eye people who voted for Brexit and say to them what was said to Irish voters in 2004 – “You voted the wrong way. Go back and deliver the right verdict this time.” But at the same time I believe we have an internationalist duty, a progressive duty to save that which must be salvaged from the Brexit wreckage.
The possibility under this government or any Tory government of a decent, mutually advantageous agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union is vanishingly small if not absolutely zero.
So what we must save is firstly freedom of movement. Speaking from my perspective, I do not believe that you can be a Marxist,