Brexit begins: War on Want’s fight for justice and human rights continues
Article 50 has been triggered. The two-year countdown to Brexit has begun. Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter to the European Union today gave formal notification of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It means Britain should officially leave the EU no later than April 2019.
The EU referendum result created a huge amount of uncertainty for us all. It has given way to appalling racism and xenophobia. War on Want has always stood for human rights, internationalism, justice and solidarity. Now, with the starting gun fired on Brexit talks, we must be ready to fight for these values.
Brexit must not be used as an excuse to hand big business ever greater powers, trash the hard won rights of workers or cast aside our fundamental human rights. Brexit must take us forward, not backward, on social, health and environmental protections.
Together with grassroots social movements, trade unions and other progressive forces we will continue to challenge the root causes of injustice. If we are to work towards a world free from poverty, inequality and oppression we must continue to fight for what really matters:
· Free movement and migrant rights: Freedom of movement is an important right, secured by workers, which we must defend.
· Workers’ rights: The rights of workers have always been vital in the fight against poverty, yet Brexit must not be an excuse to further erode the rights of workers. As the UK labour market moves towards lower paid, less secure and more exploitative forms of employment, migrants in search of work find themselves increasingly vulnerable. We will stand with migrant workers.
· Trade justice: Brexit means the UK will negotiate its own trade deals for the first time in 40 years. New generation trade deals like TTIP and CETA threaten our democracy and our public services. They put big business in the driving seat, bequeathing them ultimate power. We must ensure a progressive trade policy that works for people and planet. No toxic trade deals.
· Democracy and transparency: The public must have a say on the key decisions that affect their lives. Future trade deals must not be negotiated in secret, as was the case with TTIP and CETA. MPs must be granted access to key texts and have the opportunity to represent the views of their constituents in parliament.
· Tax justice: The UK must not become Europe’s tax haven. For too long, big business and the super-rich have not paid their fair share in tax, syphoning off millions to offshore havens and depriving ordinary people of vital public services. We must not be a hideaway for greedy elites.
· Corporate accountability: For too long big business has sought to bypass government rules and regulations designed to protect people and the planet. War on Want will continue to fight the dominance of corporations and to hold big business to account.
· Food sovereignty: Hunger on the scale we see today in the global South is the result of a global economy in which hundreds of millions of small farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists and indigenous people have faced ruin through the hijacking of the food system by large agribusiness and food retailers. We must fight to end corporate control of the global food system and give people control over their food.
· Human rights: Brexit must not be an excuse to ditch our international commitment to human rights. The Human Rights Act sets out our fundamental rights and freedoms and ensures everyone is treated fairly and with dignity and respect. Any effort to weaken people’s rights gives the wrong message to the world’s most brutal human rights abusers. We must continue to protect and defend human rights.