It was a pleasure to see Jeremy Corbyn make a speech this morning that adopted a different tone to much of the EU debate.
He’s right to argue that we cannot close ourselves off from the world, right to talk about the benefits of immigration and right to lay out some of the specific benefits of remaining inside the EU.
Like UNISON, Jeremy has long-standing criticisms of the European Union, but also appreciates what membership provides for the British people – especially in terms of workplace rights, equalities and protections.
At the same time, it was good to see that Jeremy is taking a firm, clear and correct line against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Like UNISON, he clearly is unwilling to let his support for remaining in the EU blind him to some of its flaws.
UNISON was the first union to raise issue of TTIP four years ago, and as part of our desire to remain in a reformed EU, we’ll continue to fight this dangerous piece of legislation.
Of course there are those who argue that we must only speak of the benefits of EU membership – but I’ve always believed that UNISON members and the electorate in general are more sophisticated than that. The reality is I don’t think Europe is perfect, but I’d hope that any arguments I make in favour of remaining have more value in that context.
It’s likely that those of us who have been sceptical about Europe but still want to stay part of Europe – and fight to change it – will have a profound impact on the result come 23 June. That’s why it’s important that everyone who will be voting Remain, regardless of their specific position, is willing to make the argument for staying part of Europe in the next few weeks.
Our union will certainly continue to play our part.