People Before Profit MLA’s have criticised the European Union as “neo-liberal” and “anti-democratic”, encouraging people to vote for a “Left Exit” on Thursday“There is no prospect of turning the EU away from the path of naked ‘competitiveness”, said Foyle MLA Eamonn McCann.

“The race to the bottom, the destruction of fundamental rights, and enforced austerity will continue, and if we vote to stay in, things will only get worse. In or out, the fight will go on, but we will have better terrain for fighting if we are outside the stranglehold of this anti-democratic entity. That’s the biggest point of all.”

McCann also said that claims borders would be hardened as a result of a Brexit was an exaggeration:.

“As for a Leave vote leading to border checks on the Buncrana Road: The border between Sweden (inside the EU) and Norway (outside the EU) is like Bridgend. You drive across without hindrance and wouldn’t notice a border.”

“The two governments and every one of the big parties on this island are opposed to a ‘hard border.’ More important, the people on both sides of the border wouldn’t stand for it. Does anybody think that the British government is going to send thousands of border guards to stand at crossings at Louth-Armagh?”

McCann also said the idea that the EU protects worker’s rights is a myth:

“The days when the EU had even a pretence of a progressive role are long gone. John Major’s government negotiated a full opt-out from the social chapter through the Maastricht Treaty. The EU has now become completely committed to letting market forces rip through every aspect of our lives. EU competition law forbids intervention to save jobs, because State subsidy would ‘distort the market.’

“Remain campaigners say they will reform the EU. No, they won’t. There is no mechanism for doing any such thing. The Lisbon Treaty has copper-fastened neo-liberalism.”

“The Greek people learned all about EU democracy last year. Their decisions were treated with contempt. The chief EU Commissioner, Jean Paul Junker, put it plain: ‘To suggest that everything is going to change because there’s a new government in Athens is to mistake dreams for reality… There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”

West Belfast MLA Gerry Carroll also hit out at the EU for its record over the ongoing refugee crisis.

“Any notion that staying inside the EU benefits migrants is a myth. Look at how the EU legitimises racism by propping up fortress Europe. Thousands of refugees have died in the Mediterranean over the last year, and those who have managed to land safely have done so with little assistance from the EU.”

“In fact, arriving on EU soil refugees are greeted by barbed wire checkpoints, riot police and tear-gas; while the EU engages in what Amnesty International has described as a “illegal and immoral” practice, of sending refugees back to Turkey; a country with a long and documented history of human rights abuses.”

“As a socialist, I can’t lend my support to an institution which props up austerity and legitimises racism throughout Europe. That’s why I’ll be voting to leave. No one is suggesting everything will be rosy if we pull out of Europe; we can’t predict the future. But we do know that we will be better placed to fight for an improved society outside of the EU. If we want to see a world of real justice, solidarity, decency and respect for all its citizens, then we have to understand the EU is a bulwark to this.”