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55 Arguments for Lexit

Part 1: Introduction, by Alan Johnson

Two years ago I wrote a long post at Harry’s Place about why i was intending to vote leave ‘from the left’. Here, I collect links to 55 articles and videos that make the case for Lexit, i.e. a LEft-wing EXIT from the European Union (not from ‘Europe’).

The Lexit position has been almost totally ignored. Its supporters are rarely asked to set out their case in UK broadsheet newspapers, or on TV, or to join academic or think tank panels.

There have been a few reasons for this, some more respectable than others.

At the respectable end of things, Lexiteers are a very small minority of both the Left and of Leavers. And we have failed to make the transition from making a critique of the EU to setting out a compelling alternative for the future (not that anyone else has either, mind). We have simply not done the work to make ourselves relevant to the national debate before or after the referendum. We have created little or nothing in the way of conferences, websites, think tanks or journals. Symptomatic of our failure has been the trajectory of the Labour MP Gisela Stuart who, after playing a leading role in the leave campaign, has been more or less silent. Although Leave won the referendum 23 months ago, Lexiteers have not done the hard thinking and movement-building that could have sustained the elaboration of a compelling, left-wing and ‘national-popular’ vision of Brexit.

At the less respectable end of the spectrum, the Lexit case is ignored because it fails to pass what is the really decisive test in this country when it comes to gaining access to the national conversation: is your argument acceptable to a North London dinner party? Remainer and influential broadcaster Robert Peston admitted that after the referendum result he realized to his horror that every single person he knew thought that supporting Brexit was equivalent to ‘farting in public’. And that is the other reason. Lexit does not get much of a hearing because the UK left mostly refuses to see plain the many long-standing structural failures and injustices of the EU. Groupe pense, then.

And yet, still it moves. There does exist a left-wing and national-popular critique of the EU, as these pieces make clear. The idea of the ‘national popular’ was originated by the Italian socialist and internationalist Antonio Gramsci, and is explained below by the Greek socialist and internationalist Kouvalakis. It has long been part of the intellectual apparatus of many radical and internationalist Britons from Thomas Rainsborough to Edward Thompson to Billy Bragg. Who knows, it might yet be again.

I find no unified ‘Lexit position’ in these 55 pieces (which, I should point out, include a couple of voices – Owen Jones and Paul Mason – who after making the most trenchant criticisms of the EU decided to vote Remain, while others such as Wolfgang Streeck are commentators who influenced Leavers, rather than Leavers as such). The writers range from the Labour Right to the Revolutionary Left. The list is no more than what I found surfing the net for a day, so I make no claims for its comprehensiveness. Still, these articles, essays, interviews, opeds and videos tell us that 23 June 2016 made possible other futures for this country than simply getting into bed with Jacob Rees-Mogg or collapsing back into the arms of Jean-Claude Juncker.


1. Tony Benn

Leave the EU to Restore Democracy

You Tube

2. Alan Johnson

Brexit: The Left Wing Case

28 March 2017

New York Times

3. John Rees

The Why and the What of a People’s Brexit


18 February 2018

4. Wolfgang Streeck

Brexit and the British Election


5. Wolfgang Streeck

The Return of the Repressed

New Left Review

March-April 2017

6. Labour Leave

Lexit: The Movie

15 June 2016

7. Mick Cash, Mary Davis and others

The EU is now a profoundly anti-democratic institution


17 February 2016

8 Steve Hedley (RMT)

Why leftists should vote leave and why unions support Brexit

23 May 2016

You Tube

9. Alan Johnson

Why I am Voting Leave

20 June 2016

Harry’s Place

10. Susan Watkins

Keys to a present in crisis: political imbalances of the EU

Editorial Traficantes de Sueños.

You Tube

11. Tariq Ali

The Rotten Heart of Europe

Subversive Forum – The Future of Europe, Zagreb,

15 May. 2012

You Tube

12. Susan Watkins

Casting Off?

New Left Review 100 (new series)

July-August 2016

13. Lee Jones

The EU locked in neoliberalism and locked out its people. Brexit is the alternative

LSE Blog

10 June 2016

14. Lee Jones

The EU Referendum: Brexit, the Politics of Scale and State Transformation

The Disorder of Things

24 May 2016

15. Stathis Kouvelakis

An Open Letter to the British Left


7 May 2016

16. Stathis Kouvelakis

The EU Can’t Be Reformed

Verso Blog

26 June 2016

17. Stathis Kouvelakis

Brexit, Europe and Greece

Verso Blog

19 September 2016

18. Alex Gordon

The Left Case Against the EU

London Says Lexit

14 June 2016

19. Tariq Ali

Why the Left Should Support Brexit

Dangerous Times Festival

29 May 2017

20. Costas Lapavitsas

Why They Left


7 July 2016

21. Costas Lapavitsas

If the left got its act together, things would change drastically


8 February 2018

22. Wolfgang Streeck

Social Democracy’s Last Rounds


25 February 2016

23. Wolfgang Streeck

Markets and Peoples: Democratic Capitalism and European Integration

New Left Review 73 (new series)

January-February 2012

24. Wolfgang Streeck

Exploding Europe: Germany, the Refugees and the British Vote to Leave

Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute

September 2016

25. Perry Anderson

Too Frightened to Change a Hated Order

The Nation

6 March 2017

26. Richard Tuck

Brexit: a prize within reach for the Left

Policy Exchange

17 July 2017

27. Reuben Bard-Rosenberg

The Radical Case Against the Single Market is not Myth


19 February 2018

28. Lee Jones

The Left and Brexit: No More Excuses

The Current Moment

1 July 2016

29. Martin Hall

What Does Corbyn’s Brexit Speech Really Mean?

26 February 2018


30. Giles Fraser

Call me a liar, an idiot or a wrong ’un if you like, but I’m still voting leave


15 June 2016

31. Paul Mason (who voted Remain)

The Left-Wing Case for Brexit (one day)


16 May 2016

32. Maurice Glassman

Why should Labour support the undemocratic EU? The case to leave

Labour List

2 June 2016

33. Maurice Glassman

Why Brexit is a chance for national renewal


13 March 2017

34. Giles Fraser

The wrong sort of voter? There’s no such thing, AC Grayling


21 September 2017

35. Gisela Stuart and Frank Furedi

After Brexit: Reimagining Sovereignty. Gisela Stuart in conversation with Frank Furedi

21 September 2017

36. John Green

To Brexit or not to Brexit

Morning Star

14 December 2017

37. Owen Jones (who voted Remain)

The Left must put Britain’s EU withdrawal on the agenda


14 July 2014

38. Owen Jones, Jon Trickett, Kelvin Hopkins

‘There is no carte blanche from the left any more’: UK Left-Wingers Heading for EU Exit

You Tube

6 July 2015

39. Jo Guinan and Thomas M. Hanna

Lexit: the EU is a neoliberal project, so let’s do something different when we leave it

New Statesman

20 July 2017

40. Richard Johnson

Brexit could be an opportunity for the Labour Party, not a tragedy

LSE Blog


41. Paul Johnson

Labour should not be the champion of EU free movement

LSE Blog

28 January 2016

42. Neil Davidson

After Brexit: Will the EU Crack Up?

International Socialist Review

Fall 2016

43. Perry Anderson

The Italian Disaster

London Review of Books

22 May 2014

44. T.J.Clark

I Voted Leave

London Review of Books

14 July 2016

45. Vince Mills

A progressive Brexit is possible

Morning Star

2 March 2018

46. Clive Heemskerk

Corbyn’s Brexit Opportunity

Socialism Today

September 2016

47. Hannah Sell

On Yannis Varoufakis reform agenda

Socialism Today

June 2016

48. Hannah Sell

The Single Market: a neoliberal tool of the bosses

The Socialist

23 August 2017

49. Chelley Ryan

Attempts to overturn Brexit are misguided

Morning Star

27 February 2018

50. John Haylett

Bad Faith Arguments over Ireland and the EU

Morning Star

10 March 2018

51. Lee Jones

The Mail’s ‘Brexit bias’ witch-hunt is wrong, but raises uncomfortable home truths

LSE Blog

30 October 2017

52. John Foster

What a different kind of customs union could look like under Labour

Morning Star

2 March 2018

53. Pauline Bryant and Vince Mills

Getting the Best Out of Brexit
Radical Options for Scotland and Europe

54. Alan Johnson

Gründe für die Krise der Europäischen Union (Karsruhe Dialogues, 2017)

You Tube

55. Anonymous Academic

I voted for Brexit – why do academic colleagues treat me like a pariah?


15 September 2017