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Our Crack Tongue & Groove

commenteu.jpg All aboard the good ship Farage?
 

In? Out? Shake it all about? It’s the European Union referendum in June and, unlike with general elections, every vote is going to count.

Who’s with Iain Duncan Smith, then? The man who singularly failed to double fist pump himself a heart, but did manage to send out a lackey to pick him up a social conscience from Poundland, is in the Leave camp. As is Priti Patel, the Tory Minister for Employment. She is keen to leave the European Union because she reckons British workers are “the worst idlers in the world” and dreams of the UK taking its rightful place amongst the planet’s greatest sweatshops. Maybe she was directing her “worst idler” comment at Boris Johnson, a man who apparently took his work ethic regarding the London Mayoral position from Dick Whittington’s cat. He’s up for ditching the EU because, and to be fair to him, he thinks it will give the UK a huge boost on the jobs front, particularly his own.

But workers have a great deal to lose if we vote to leave the EU because the likes of Iain Duncan Smith, Priti Patel and Boris Johnson are not itching to turn the UK into some kind of employment paradise. Their aim is to cultivate a workforce that is more “flexible”, a catch-all term that sounds kind of modern, kind of funky, but actually means taking a flame-thrower to rights that workers have fought for over many decades that are now enshrined in European law. The flexibility they talk about refers exclusively to bosses who want the option of suspending holiday leave, or getting shot of workers when they become pregnant.

A recent independent report from Michael Ford QC identified the dangers for working people if Britain left the EU: “All the social rights in employment currently required by EU law would be potentially vulnerable… It is easy to contemplate a complete reversal of the gradual increase in social regulation protecting workers which has taken place since the 1960s”.

Indeed, six Tories in the Leave camp are already planning to make a bonfire out of workers’ rights by sponsoring a parliamentary bill that will let employers opt out of the Working Time Directive. This piece of “red-tape” is an EU agreement that guarantees you a minimum of 20 days paid leave a year.

There is much that is wrong with the European Union, not least the purported EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which threatens to put business needs ahead of the wishes of elected governments, but surely the only way we can fight such a stitch-up is by joining the huge momentum that is building against the deal from within the Union. And problems presented by climate change, migration and tax avoidance can only be tackled if we all work together.

Putting up barriers, Trump style, and turning your back on the world isn’t the way forward. There is no Them and Us. There is only Us.

But if you’re still undecided on which way to vote, then I’d put your trust in the old adage: Do the opposite of whatever Nigel Farage thinks is right.

The EU referendum is on 23 June. You must be registered to vote by 7 June. If you’re not registered to vote then you can do so here (it takes 5 minutes): gov.uk/register-to-vote