How not to make the case for ‘remain’

There is a compelling case for EU membership based on social justice and human rights. But you won’t find it in Theresa May’s speech

25th April 2016

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In a speech apparently intended to make the case for remaining inside the European Union, Theresa May has today attacked the European Convention of Human Rights, called for Britain to withdraw from it, and criticised the free movement rights that allow EU citizens to work and study in other countries.

Sam Fowles, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham and Another Europe spokesperson, said:

“Theresa May has just made the worst possible argument for remaining in the EU. Not only are the ideas she put forward incredibly threatening for all of us who enjoy living in a free society, but they demonstrate a complete ignorance of the basic principles of law, economics and history.

“She is entirely wrong to say that the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR only “binds the hands of Parliament” insofar as it prevents it legislating to treat its citizens as less than human.

“The ECHR means the government must go through due process and can’t deport people who have not been convicted of a crime to places where they will be tortured.

“A ‘British Bill of Rights’ is absurd. Does May think that British people are somehow “human” in a different way to others? The only reason to replace the ECHR with a British Bill of Rights is to make us settle for fewer rights and justify it with jingoism.

“May’s analysis of immigration is similarly absurd. She claims to be in favour of free trade but seems to have forgotten that you can’t have free trade without free movement. It’s also surprising that she does not seem to have read any of the plethora of studies that show EU migrants contribute significantly more to the UK economy than they receive. Such disregard for fact is usually the preserve of the “leave” campaign. On the “remain” side we don’t need it and shouldn’t embrace it.

Luke Cooper, convenor of the Another Europe Is Possible campaign added:

“By accepting so much of the arguments of the Leave camp May risks handing them victory on a plate. From attacking immigrants to curtailing human rights, Theresa May shows just how reactionary this government is. There is a compelling case for EU membership based on social justice, human rights, environmental sustainability and international cooperation. It’s this case that urgently needs to be heard.”