Former Green MEP thinks Britain should leave the EU
Irish politician Patricia McKenna explains Brexit to the Tab
Patricia McKenna was Ireland’s first Green member of the European Parliament in Brussels. However as an Independent Politician, she now believes there’s too much fundamentally wrong with the European Union for the UK to remain a member. Campaigning with “Green Leaves” the other day on the Vale, Patricia makes up just one part of “Lexit”- a movement of left-wingers who believe Britain is better off out.
So Patricia to begin, what is the core reason that you believe Britain should leave the EU?
Patricia: I back Brexit because I see leaving the EU as the only way Britain can create real change. Time and time again, it has been shown that reform within the EU is impossible and bogged down in bureaucracy. If Britain wants to change anything on the EU treaties they are bound to, all 28 member states must agree to those changes first.
Furthermore, I believe the EU must take much of the blame for the recent economic crises Britain and many other European countries have faced. The EU is underpinned by a policy of neo-liberalism and therefore, member states are straight-jacketed to constant policies of austerity.
The austerity politics promoted by the EU caused the issues in Greece and Ireland, making ordinary people pay for the mistakes caused by bankers. No other supra-national or national organisation has the preservation of the single market economy rooted so strongly in its ethos and treaties.
Therefore, leaving the EU would be the best choice for the UK’s ordinary working people.
Many on the left are critical of the EU’s neo-liberal outlook. So do you think that more left-wing politicians should be campaigning for us to leave?
Patricia: I think so. Everything the EU does, every decision it makes, is in order to save and support the single market within Europe.
Anytime the EU has allowed worker’s rights, this has only been a by-effect of securing the market. As I mentioned before, a system with this outlook is always going to be to the detriment of ordinary people.
When the economic bubble burst in Ireland back in 2008, ministers in Ireland were demanded by Jean Claude Juncker (president of the European Commission) to save the banks and the Euro currency first, it was ordinary Irish people who paid the price through cuts to public services.
If you believe in democracy, it’s very difficult to justify the way the EU works. MEP’s can’t be held accountable for things that are going wrong because legislation in Brussels is overruling what people want.
Do you believe these issues also relate to the UK, a country which, does not have the Euro?
Patricia: Well, these economic issues are only going to get worse. In being one of the larger economies in the EU, the UK will be left to deal with the mess of any further economic crises caused by the Euro and the European single market. A lot of people believe Italy will be the next country to face these issues. I do not believe the UK should be dragged into measures dealing with this.
The EU needs Britain a lot more than Britain needs the EU. The cycle of member states propping up Europe’s already broken economic situation will just continue, applying more pressure for further austerity measures in the UK.
Many would say that the Leave Campaign can become hijacked by xenophobes and anti-immigration politics. As a voice on the left, what do you make of this?
Patricia: As an Irish citizen, whose ancestors have obviously migrated all over the world, I see nothing wrong with immigration. However, people do obviously have concerns with how the unlimited free movement of people within Europe affects wages.
To anyone who says criticising the EU’s immigration policies is racist, I present them this counter-argument: we want to open the UK’s borders up to the most skilled people all over the WORLD, not just in the EU. We have links with commonwealth nations such as India, whom I believe we owe something of a debt to after colonisation. We cut our ties with these nations when we began trading within Europe.
Everyone, no matter where in the world they are from, should be judged on an equal platform when applying to live and work in the UK.
Finally Patricia, what do you say to those who worry about potentially negative effects on the UK’s economy if we leave the EU?
Patricia: Europe is a shrinking market. There a much better economic and trade opportunities elsewhere in the world, such as markets in South East Asia. Not to mention the fact that it is extremely unlikely European nations will cease to trade with one of the world’s biggest and strongest economies.
Before Ireland entered the EU, 2/3rds of its trade was already with the UK, a proportion that obviously shrunk when it opened up to the European single market.
Businesses aren’t going to miss out on trade opportunities with the UK market, even if the rules are altered.