When Brexit passed in late June, Jill Stein was one of several American politicians to offer her support of the country’s decision to leave the European Union.
Jill published a statement on her website that called Brexit a “victory” and commended voters for taking a stand against neoliberalism. Stein characterized the move as a win for those who wanted to fight back against the establishment.
“The vote in Britain to exit the European Union (EU) is a victory for those who believe in the right of self-determination and who reject the pro-corporate, austerity policies of the political elites in EU. … The Brexit vote is one more sign that voters are in revolt against the rigged economy and the rigged political system that created it… Britain has spoken for much of humanity as it rejects the failed vision of a world that prioritizes profit for the few amidst hardship for the many. Now we must build on this momentum.”
Jill Stein On Brexit, Neoliberalism Causing Modern Fascism. https://t.co/zbaHTp6ZB2
— Ya’akov Litman (@FreethinkRabbi) July 23, 2016
Jill went on to blame such neoliberal EU policies for creating the conditions that have led to an “anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment.” For many, these are the very terms which define the pro-Brexit movement, but the nation’s far-left progressives were actually also in favor. That was, however, for a starkly different set of reasons; ones that are more akin to Stein’s Green Party platform. In an editorial for The Guardian, Paul Mason detailed this position.
“The EU is not – and cannot become – a democracy. Instead, it provides the most hospitable ecosystem in the developed world for rentier monopoly corporations, tax-dodging elites and organized crime. It has an executive so powerful it could crush the leftwing government of Greece; a legislature so weak that it cannot effectively determine laws or control its own civil service… Its central bank is committed, by treaty, to favor deflation and stagnation over growth. State aid to stricken industries is prohibited. The austerity we deride in Britain as a political choice is, in fact, written into the EU treaty as a non-negotiable obligation.”
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) August 4, 2016
Shortly after posting this statement, Jill replaced it with one less directly praiseworthy of Brexit. Stein instead sharpened her criticism of neoliberalism, rather than congratulating the success of the referendum. Notable in the revised statement is her affiliation with Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas and the UK Greens “who supported staying in the EU but working to fix it.”
“The Brexit vote should be a wake-up call to the EU — they need to do more to respect democracy at the national level; serve the interests of the people by controlling transnational corporations, not empowering them; and protect the environment, not allow big business profits to come before the environment.”
— Nature News&Comment (@NatureNews) August 7, 2016
This tacit – and seemingly retracted – support of Brexit has been a point of controversy for Jill since then. In a recent Huffington Post editorial, Stein’s position on Brexit was equated to that of Donald Trump — used as evidence that she did not truly espouse progressive values. While the two presidential candidates may have been on the same side, it was for starkly different reasons: Trump rallied against the very immigrants that Jill called victims of the EU, reported Real Clear Politics.
“I think really people see a big parallel… Not only the United States but other countries. People want to take their country back. They want to have independence in a sense. You see it all over Europe and many other cases where they want to take their borders back. They want to take their monetary [sic] back. They want to take a lot of things back. They want to have a country again.”
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) August 5, 2016
What do you think of Jill Stein’s Brexit stance?
[Image via John Minchillo/AP Images]