The essence of Brexit was commonly seen as a right-wing project, and essentially focused on immigration. And this project struck a chord with so-called Labour voters in so-called Labour traditional heartlands.
I say so-called because actually the Labour vote in such areas has been in decline for a number of years. Plus the routing of Labour in Scotland.
All familiar stuff, but what would a left-wing exit from the EU look like?
So far we have, from various quarters, basically a bit of a shopping list:
1. protect workers rights
2. protect the environment
3. allow state aid to companies
4. remove market forces from public services
5. continue with EU educational and research networks.
On the free movement of people it gets a bit more vague. Something along the lines of – yes to free movement but with conditions on higher wage rates and local advertising.
Yet every indication so far is that the negotiations for Brexit will be for single market access in goods and services, with London’s financial services being the likely sticking point.
On this scenario we could have a future where UK firms manufacture two standards of, say, kettles. The CE standard will be allowed to be sold within the EU. The lower, rougher, cruder (though not necessarily cheaper) UK standard kettle will be allowed for British sales only. Free market rules. Fewer rights, such as removing working time limits. Less mutual recognition of social rights such as pensions and health care.
Perhaps we can start a new, more positive conversation. Let’s take the above shopping list as a good start but also consider these ideas as well:
6. free movement of people
7. a minimum income based on adult citizenship
8. changing agricultural subsidies to protect biodiversity
9. supporting rural businesses and communities explicitly
10. rebuilding a second language education to 18 years of age
11. agreeing a standard functional level of English for personal service work
12. focusing state aid to market failure such as the lack of investment in low carbon technologies.
Of course, having a list does not guarantee that we will get it all. But we have to start the conversation, especially with people who voted out.