Priya Gopal on Democracy Now

In an interview for Democracy Now, Priya Gopal, professor at Cambridge university, suggested that EU is a 'neoliberal' and a 'capitalist' institution. But, she said that choice for an institution that is neither neoliberal nor capitalistic does not exist. Gopal makes this argument against those on the Left that have supported leaving the EU. Left’s case against EU is termed Lexit.

Gopal warns the proponents of leaving the EU, whether they be for Lexit, or Brexit: "you’re not actually doing that for greater democracy or for greater social justice; you’re actually capitulating to what is what I would definitely describe as a far-right project, both economically and socially"

On the question of the second referrendum, Gopal replied: " Let me phrase this carefully. I think that any deal that Parliament comes up with today, whether that is a soft Brexit, whether that is no Brexit, whether that is a hard Brexit or whether in fact it is no deal, I think that the decision should be returned to the British people. And I say this for two reasons. I think that any deal that substantially changes Britain’s relationship with the EU should, in an exercise of democratic rights, be returned to the people for a vote. I also say it because I think there are very serious questions about the Leave campaign’s role in the first referendum, and there are questions about the extent of disinformation and extent of electoral problems, you know, to put it very mildly, were electoral—breaking of electoral regulations by the Leave campaign in the lead-up to the 2016 referendum. So it seems to me quite important to take these, essentially, life-altering decisions back to the British people."

Amy Goodman ended the interview with a very important question. Goodman asked 'Finally, what do you think the media should be asking right now?"

Gopal replied: " I think that the media needs to ask two things. I think it needs to ask tougher questions about how the referendum of 2016 was conducted. It needs to—you know, really, it should have, by now, asked more probing questions about the kinds of misinformation that were circulating by the “Leave” campaign in the lead-up to that referendum. It should also be asking questions—and I’m very surprised that this is not being done—we know that the Electoral Commission has fined the Leave campaign for violations of electoral law, and the Leave campaign has essentially accepted that fine and is going to pay it. Now, this is quite serious. We now have Electoral Commission’s judgments that there were electoral process violations by the Leave campaign. We also know that some of the key funders of the Leave campaign are under investigation by the police and by the National Crime Agency. So, again, as in the U.S. situation, there are questions about where the money came from, who used the money, whether there has been interference from outside, and what kinds—and potential criminal violations. And it seems to me that the media really ought to be pursuing these questions with much greater vigor than they have been so far."

Sure, media should probe these questions. But, Gopal's answer, I fear, rests on the assumption, which many hold, that Leave only won because the Leave Vote campaign used dirty tricks. To me, this assertion is problematic because it implies that Leave vote could not have won, that is to say, people in this country could not have voted to leave the EU, if Leave Vote campaign didn't indulged in underhand political activity.

By continuously making this assertion about the victory of Leave vote, some people in Britain ignore other potential reasons why people from towns like Oldham, Grimsby, Stoke-on-Trent, and from parts in Greater London, voted to Leave. The lack of investment in the areas, the low wages, the precarious work, the cuts in NHS, the council budget cuts, transfer of land from councils to private enterprises, rent hikes, debt rise, and so forth.

So, media should probe any potential electoral frauds and violations. But, more importantly, the media should question why people voted leave. Why did people in the North vote Leave. Why did many South Asians vote for Leave.

Link: https://www.democracynow.org/2019/4/1/uk_in_crisis_facing_no_deal