As the desperately close Brexit vote approaches, UK Labour MP Stephen Kinnock talks to Conflict Zone about why Britain should remain in the EU and how the country will have stronger sovereignty in the 28-member bloc.
In the mad dash to the Brexit vote, UK Labour MP Stephen Kinnock is arguing that voters don’t understand the true implications of leaving the EU. Like many others, Kinnock was not willing to come to a complete defense of the EU while also pointing out that there is little insight into what would happen next, if Brexit passes.
“We have the biggest choice that’s faced this country for generations on the 23rd of June and people are going in to those ballot boxes without any clarity at all on what leave looks like,” said UK Labour MP Stephen Kinnock in conversation with Tim Sebastian. “And I think that is a major question for a democracy.”
It’s not the only major democratic question Brexit has spawned. The Labour Party has discussed using their power as parliamentarians to keep Britain in the single market, in the event Brexit passes, something that could cause a constitutional crisis. Such is the intensity of political debate in the weeks before a vote that has split parties and created strange bedfellows across the United Kingdom. Kinnock even criticized the leader of his own party – Jeremy Corbyn – for not being focused enough on the campaign.
“Leaders are judged by their results,” Kinnock said. “I would've liked to see him out there on the stump more than he has been.”
Strengthening sovereignty by staying
Last week on Conflict Zone, UKIP deputy chair Diane James lambasted the European Union as "a failure," saying: "I would describe it as an organization that’s run out of steam compared to its original concept."
The EU is rarely popular these days and Kinnock did not try too hard to defend the Union, admitting: “nobody is saying the EU is perfect.” Instead, he played down concerns over fundamental questions like the sovereignty of member states.
“Leaving the EU would fundamentally weaken our sovereignty,” he said. “This is a dangerous and uncertain world. You pull up the drawbridge and float off into the mid-Atlantic, your sovereignty is deeply weakened by that move.”
If the UK were going to renegotiate trade treaties, he said they would need to agree to all of the things they already accept, like free movement of people and payments to the EU budget. But they would have practically no say in how the single market is run, just the obligations.
Kinnock on the day he won election to parliament with his wife, former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
“You need to give a little bit to get something back,” he said. “I see sovereignty like a boomerang. You throw it out there… and more comes back to you, and you end up actually being stronger through the partnerships.”
Sebastian questioned whether this line of thinking could really apply to the massive security challenges that stem from open borders and localized police forces. He noted that EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove has recently criticized countries for not sharing enough information and warned that “we will miss something.” Kinnock responded that the issues would stay, whether or not Britain stayed in the EU.
“If there are mad people out there who want to do bad things, they are going to do it,” he said. “Whether or not the Schengen-zone exists.”