First of all, congratulations on your work on fleshing out the big vision ideas of Another Europe is Possible. Your podcasts have been inspiring… Obviously at DiEM25 UK, we share many of your aims, and would like very much to collaborate with you on getting the message out in any way that we can.
We also wish you good luck with the Left Against Brexit tour announced at the beginning of June. The points you have been raising about the racism and xenophobia of the official Leave campaigns, not to mention the dark money misuse of big data, and the terrible ‘democracy free zone’ which is the Brexit process are all ones we feel passionately about as well.
As you know, we at DiEM25 dedicated every sinew we possessed at the time of the referendum to campaigning with many of you against Brexit. But we have a hard time believing that it will do any good for due democratic process in this country to look people in the eye 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.”
This is why we are not ready to sign up to the People’s Vote, regardless of demographic calculations that suggest the Remainers may now constitute a ‘winning team’. They may, they may not, and it may be an equally slim majority… but none of these outcomes is satisfactory for the simple reason that there has not been (and it’s hard to foresee it in the short term) an adult national debate – up and down the UK – which is what we really need to show how democracy can overcome toxic divides. We believe democracy can do this – but only if democracy does not invoke a one-size-fits-all monocultural, majoritarian sovereign will, and instead sets out to pass the litmus test of treating its minorities with inclusiveness and respect.
Using the referendum it turns out was a fine way to have a fear-generating confrontation without having a debate about the future of our country. Without that debate, we fear that even the People’s Vote is a premature call for an ‘end result’ without any chance to create a shared vision for the UK or for Europe. This is why DiEM25 UK believes in seeking opportunities to bring together Leavers and Remainers interested in understanding each other and what we want for a better future. It is why we have been recommending people to look up the Citizens Assembly that took place in Manchester last September as a model of what could be done albeit on a smaller scale, in many more places.
Indeed this is why we recommended a renewable Norway-style agreement after March 2019 to our Labour Party friends, because, as Yanis Varoufakis told Labour for the Single Market and Open Britain at a meeting in the HoC in January: “This affords the House of Commons the opportunity to have the debate in peace and quiet and without a ticking clock and a gun pointing at their heads, of what they want in the longer term.” We hope that this would also afford time for our beleaguered parliamentary representatives and our beleaguered devolved assemblies to consult with the people they represent.
Moreover, a ‘democracy-free-zone’ is the description Yanis Varoufakis long ago gave to the European Union. On migration, racism and xenophobia, for example, it is clear that the EU is in a crisis over what a state is – and a retrograde nationalism now on the rise and busy externalising borders is only part of this epochal challenge. So while we believe that we have an internationalist duty, a progressive duty to save that which must be salvaged from the Brexit wreckage, we can’t be content about the current condition of the EU.
We believed at the time of the referendum that Another Europe is Possible. Ironically, thanks to the Brexit process we suspect many of our countrymen and women who never before thought about what it is to be European are beginning to have quite strong opinions about the new direction in common in which Europe, and we as well, need to go. Now and for the next few months up until the May 2019 European elections (when we are planning to support DiEM25’s European Spring in the UK as well) and assuredly in the years that follow, is the time to launch this urgent, multifaceted debate.
So we are writing to you to say – if you are holding events on how to reverse the Brexit losses democratically, please think of inviting one of us onto your panels – and please count on us to campaign alongside you for Another Europe in much of the rocky road ahead… If you would like to have a discussion about possible alliance activity… let us know. We have a new UK National Collective and we are eager for connection! Good luck,
all the best,
Rosemary Bechler on behalf of the DiEM25 UK NC