Statement by Lambeth UNISON following the vote to leave the EU
Like our national union, Lambeth UNISON supported the campaign to stay in the EU. We believed UK withdrawal from the European Union in the referendum would be a victory for the nationalist right and their vile, racist campaign against migrants, including members – and potential members – of our union. We wanted to see a campaign that sought an end to austerity, and the levelling *up* of wages, conditions, services, and rights across Europe; for the scrapping of bureaucratic EU structures and for a sovereign, democratic European Parliament; and for freedom of movement and an end to “Fortress Europe”. We are proud of the role we played in Lambeth’s 79% vote in favour of staying in the European Union.
The vote to leave the EU reflects deep and growing social distress caused by years of vicious attacks against living standards and public services. Our next actions can only be to redouble our fight against austerity, defending migrants and to fight for a decent life for all workers.
The three million Europeans living, working and studying in the UK will now be fearful about their future, many of them will be UNISON members. We must fight any concessions or triangulation by the Labour Party and wider labour movement to the mood of nationalism — such as justifying the strengthening of immigration controls. Instead we will champion the politics of unity and social solidarity amongst workers.
The referendum result has already been used by the right-wing in the Labour Party as an opportunity to challenge the Jeremy Corbyn leadership. We defend Corbyn. The huge democratic mandate on which he stood for and won the leadership of the Labour Party stands. We stand by our union’s decision to support Corbyn for leader of the Labour Party and congratulate our General Secretary for signing the letter from all the Labour Link Unions warning MPs against a “manufactured leadership row”. Whatever the shortcomings of Labour’s campaign on the referendum, Corbyn was right not to join Tory’s big business message on Europe, was right not to appeal to traditional Labour voters on the basis of prejudice against migrants.
Nobody is better placed than Corbyn, to win back Labour heartlands to our party and a politics of solidarity socialism and anti-racism.