I have said from the very beginning that this European Union (EU) referendum matters more to me than anything else. The issue of who governs our country matters far more than party politics.
Now that the official campaign has kicked off, it is important that all of us on the Leave side work together. I’ve already travelled the length and breadth of the UK sharing platforms with Conservative MPs such as Peter Bone, Liam Fox and David Davis. Just this week I shared a platform with Cabinet Minister Chris Grayling.
Equally important however is the fact that I’ve also shared a platform with the likes of Labour’s Kate Hoey, George Galloway, and various figures from the trade union movement. On most issues we strongly disagree – but on this one issue, the most important issue of all, we stand together. The Leave side can only win if we have an effective ground campaign comprising of activists from across the political spectrum working together.
I am delighted for instance that Kate Hoey was on this week’s Question Time and I’m also glad to be appearing on BBC Any Questions this week with Mick Cash, the General Secretary of the anti-EU RMT Union. Mr. Cash of course was preceded by a giant figure of the left, Bob Crow, a man who I considered a friend and was fervently pro-Brexit.
In this referendum debate the Leave side must always remember that over 70 per cent of those of voting age did not vote Conservative. We therefore need a broad spectrum of voices to get our country out of the European Union.
There is an incredibly strong case for those on the Left to champion the Leave cause. Tony Benn’s stance on democracy was unflinching; that power must reside with the people. It is they who must always have the power to hire and fire those who make our laws. Inside the European Union, this is no longer the case.
The visit of President Obama also poses serious questions. This President, the most anti-British in history, is championing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This corporatist stitch-up between the U.S. establishment and the European Union will ultimately will take aim at the National Health Service (NHS) and will open it up to big multinationals. It is a dream for CEOs of big multinationals but a disaster for ordinary Brits. Furthermore, it represents once again, supra-national bodies going over the top of nation state democracies.
This is why the likes of President Obama and Goldman Sachs are so passionate in their insistence of the UK remaining in the EU. Rather than dealing with individual governments, they can deal with and lobby unelected EU Presidents and Commissioners directly. Unaccountable to the electorate, these people now have the power to push the TTIP agenda.
Effectively, a large part of President Obama’s desire for the UK to remain in the EU is so the NHS can be privatised by the back door and opened up to marketisation. The Americans themselves would never tolerate such a dilution of their right to national self-determination. Let’s get real; would any American President seriously open up their borders unconditionally to Mexico as the UK has done to the whole of the EU? No chance.
This subversion of democracy and the real threat it represents to our country is an issue that transcends and blurs traditional left/right divides. That is why this referendum must see all come together to fight for our country and our democracy. After all, that is what so many in two World Wars sacrificed their lives to protect.
If the Leave side is to win this referendum, if we are to mount an effective ground war with activists from across the political spectrum then we must highlight crucial issues such as TTIP and the dangers that EU membership brings. Only by working together, as a broad coalition, can the Leave side win.
Nigel Farage MEP is the leader of the UK Independence Party