We asked Molly Scott Cato, MEP for the Green Party of England and Wales, to comment on the aftermath of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and what to expect in the coming weeks.
A majority of voters in England and Wales have opted for the UK to leave the European Union. Where does the Green Party of England and Wales go from here?
"Although the majority of Green party voters voted to remain in the EU we have to take note of the fact that 25% opted for the Leave position. I take this to be a rejection of globalisation and the neoliberal stance of the EU institutions. We must not allow the far right to use the vote in the referendum as a domestic mandate. People on the right and the left voted for Brexit and it implies nothing in terms of domestic politics. I regret the outcome of the referendum, but celebrate the clamour for genuine representation it has unleashed."
While England and Wales voted Leave, Scotland and Northern Ireland both backed staying in the EU. British Conservatives are in chaos over Brexit, the Labour Party's no better. From a Greens' perspective, how will the UK’s decision to leave the EU affect the UK?
"The problem exposed by the Brexit vote is that the traditional two-party Union model of British government's no longer fits where British are at. Globalisation has created a need for multi-level governance to which our current political system cannot respond, hence the need for greater devolution. In parallel, the first past the post system was designed for a world where 98% of people voted for just two parties. That percentage is way down but those who control the power are refusing to respond by changing the electoral system so that it actually represent people's preferences. Hence the strong vote for UKIP from working class communities that feel unrepresented by Labour, but of course UKIP has only one MP despite an underlying electoral support of 15% or so. In a referendum, by contrast, every vote is equal."
From a green perspective, how will the UK’S decision to leave the EU affect the rest of the EU?
"We hope to use it as a lever to achieve both greater transparency and responsiveness in the EU institutions as well as challenging the neoliberal stance of the EU and its governments and force them to challenge corporate power and make globalisation work for everybody."
Brexit has given a voice to racism and since the referendum, the UK has registered a noticeable rise in racist abuses. Where does the Green Party pf England and Wales go from here?
"The Green party has always strongly supported freedom of movement and opposed racism. The Leave Campaign’s deplorable use of fearmongering around immigration and asylum seekers has undoubtedly fuelled hatred and rage. What the referendum revealed is that, while those of us who work in middle-class jobs enjoy the world being out oyster, many manual workers have been left behind. My own view is that we need to temper total freedom of movement or else we will lose the principal entirely, or worse still merely feed the rise of fascism."
The Greens campaigned massively in favour of staying in the EU. How is the Greens’ campaign to be assessed, both good and bad?
"I think the Green campaign was actually very effective but we do not have the huge political machines available to Labour and the Tories, both of whom failed to use them effectively during the referendum. The Stronger In campaign focused entirely on negative messaging without giving people positive reasons to vote to Remain. This was very poorly conceived. By contrast, Greens argued a strong positive case based on peace, the need to challenge corporate power, and the idea as Europe as a beacon resisting the race to the bottom on environmental and employment standards."
The EU is attacked, mistrusted, and loaded with negative emotional charges. Why? What can Greens do about it?
"Part of what happened during our referendum was a battle within the corporate and capitalist elite about how best to maximise their power and profits. Some feel constrained by EU law; others recognise it as a necessary evil to keep the masses in their place, or perhaps even have some moral compass. As Greens we have failed to communicate clearly how the EU does in fact protect Europe's citizens against the worst excesses of corporate power. We should not blame ourselves for the constant negative messages by hostile media, nor for the outright lies that were told by Leavers and then gleefully repeated by this media."
Why should we make a case for the EU?
"If you haven't had a referendum yet, one may be coming your way soon! The EU is the unique experiment in interstate cooperation which explains why we as Europeans have the highest standards of living in a broad sense of anybody in the world. We also have found a way to stop destroying as cells through war. This unprecedented area of peace and prosperity is well worth defending."
A German version of this interview will appear early September in "Das Magazin der Grünen".