Stay in Europe to change Europe. That was the message from the Vote In – Another Europe is Possible event held in central London on Saturday. Around a thousand people gathered at the meeting, hosted by the Another Europe is Possible campaign (for a progressive In vote), DiEM25 Democracy in Europe Movement, and Open Democracy.
The Another Europe campaign says that a vote for remain is not a vote for the “status quo”. The EU is in dire need of reform and democracy, and people across Europe need to come together to fight to change it.
It also says that the EU remains the best place to fight global issues like climate change and corporate power, and reminds critics of the EU (particularly those on the left) that the EU has brought peace, better regulations on the environment and in other areas, and has underpinned workers’ rights.
Speakers at the meeting included former Greek finance minister and founder of DiEM25 Yanis Varoufakis, Green MP Caroline Lucas, and Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP. To see the speech by Yanis Varoufakis see here.
The speakers were united in calling for a remain vote in the referendum on June 23rd, but also for this to be a first step in the campaign to make the EU more democratic and transparent, and to put in place EU-wide policies that promote employment, solidarity, greater equality and sustainable economic development.
In her speech, Caroline Lucas called for a rejection of the toxic anti-migrant rhetoric of the Brexiteers, and for a celebration of free movement for the opportunities it gives us to “live, work and love” across 28 EU member states.
Mobilisation of movements against austerity and the TTIP trade treaty showed that another Europe is possible, Lucas said, and (quoting Arundhati Roy) “on a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”
John McDonnell outlined his disagreement with those on the left calling for Brexit, arguing that “our consciences do not end at the Channel or the North Sea.” McDonnell said that transnational challenges such as climate change, regulation of the financial sector and international businesses, action against tax avoidance and dealing with the refugee crisis required a transnational solution, starting at the EU level.
Fellow Labour MP Clive Lewis had made similar arguments in the opening session, saying that if the EU did not exist “we would have to invent it” to meet these challenges.
Sirio Canós Donnay of the Spanish left Podemos party said that despite the harsh austerity conditions placed by the EU on southern European countries including Spain, people in these countries still wanted to be part of the EU, because they hadn’t forgotten what Europe – and their countries - were like without the EU (riven by dictatorship and war).
Campaigning journalist Owen Jones told the meeting that the ability of people to come together to bring about change should not be unestimated. “Change is never easy, but we need to fight for it” (to watch Owen’s speech see here).
The closing speech was made by one of the founders of the Another Europe campaign, refugee rights campaigner Zoe Gardner.
All those at the meeting were invited to sign the London declaration, calling for a progressive In vote in the referendum, and for a popular campaign to bring a more democratic, open, social Europe, which promotes peace and sustainable economic development.
To read the declaration (and sign it if you agree with it) see here.
From time to time we'll share exclusive interview clips (including never-seen-before footage), the most incisive blog posts and the most interesting dispatches from our event organisers as they take the europe debate to the furthest, biggest, smallest, weirdest, most unusual places around europe and beyond.