HUNDREDS of people have gathered in London to discuss demands that Brexit work for people rather than bankers and heal divides caused within the progressive movement by the EU referendum.
The event held by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity on Thursday night called for an end to austerity and protection of the treasured NHS and industries when Britain leaves the EU, as they have been damaged by privatisation.
Participants also highlighted a need to extend public ownership in manufacturing, transport, health and education; plus a manifesto of workers’ rights and full retention of rights for workers who are EU citizens.
The meeting was chaired by Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner.
The panel included Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack, NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney, People’s Assembly spokeswoman Lindsey German, former RMT president Alex Gordon and National Union of Students president Malia Bouattia.
Mr Courtney said that it was poor people who have been “shafted by neoliberalism since the 1970s” and that it is important that the labour and progressive movement fights for the rights of workers and ordinary people.
Mr Gordon explained that poverty has gotten worse over the last decade and that Brexit would be a prime opportunity to rebuild the manufacturing industry. Ms German agreed, pointing out that only Greece — which endured an economic crash as part of the eurozone — has had a bigger fall in wages than Britain since 2008.
Mr Gordon, who is also chair of the Left Campaign to Leave the EU, warned that a fight needs to be continued against the Tories wanting to replace the NHS with an insurance-based health system like that of the US.
Ms Womack slammed Tory claims that the party stands up for working people while blaming its failures on migrants to distract from austerity measures. She warned that private companies are “utterly undermining our workers’ rights.”
People’s Assembly national organiser Tom Griffiths told the Star: “It was an important step in bringing together an alliance of progressives.
“It doesn’t matter which way you voted, it is up to us to fight for a Brexit on our terms.”
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