What is Lexit?
The world of social media has been awash with aggressive societal and political beliefs on both sides of any given argument – and as such, it has become the go-to source for information on the biggest debates on the current news agenda.
2021 saw the more than four-year struggle for Brexit to come into place – and no matter a person’s political affiliation, this is now where the UK officially finds itself on the international stage.
With some details yet to be ironed out, and the vociferous opposition to its existence – there has been a term that has been almost ever-presently trending on social media since the start of the New Year – Lexit – but what does it mean?
In short – it means Left Wing Exit from the European Union (EU) – Lexit.
Although the leave campaign from a predominantly right-wing movement, there were pockets of the Labour party that agreed with the move for Britain to walk away from the EU.
More than a third of Labour party members voted to leave, back in the referendum in 2016, and although the total vote was closely run – social media outrage from left-leaning users suggested that this would be the end of the UK as a major political force. However, for decades there had been several incidents of prominent labour leadership confronting the EU on major political and societal decisions.
Two years after the results of the referendum, Brexit-supporting Labour members enjoyed a victory at the party’s annual conference when they party voted against a motion to force the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to back ‘Remain’ in a proposed second referendum.
Instead, the Lexiteers suggested that a future Labour-led government would stay neutral while negotiating a new deal with the EU, but that their own ‘progressive’ agenda would be better than what a Conservative-led government would be – and that it would primarily protect workers from Britain and the EU.
It was at this time that the term ‘Lexit’ first rose to prominence.
Although the term had been used be left-leaning political commentators to describe Eurosceptic Labour Party members – it was the first time there was an official party stance of a Lexiteer.
So, what were the main beliefs of a Lexiteer?
Although the term is related to any ‘vision of Brexit from a left-wing perspective’ and covered a lot of the same points shared by the leave campaign, there were three main views that were commonplace among those supporting Lexit.
The three main areas of focus were, freedom of movement for workers, freedom of movement from employers and the concerns over national ownership.
Freedom of movement
Whether it relates to the employee or employer, freedom of movement was something that was permanently headline news for the last four years whenever Brexit was mentioned.
Lexiteers believed that freedom of movement for employers allow businesses to move to countries with lower wages and worse working conditions for employers for workers of all nationalities. Businesses would save money, but employees would lose out. In many cases throughout the EU, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) sided with the companies and it would cause issues of firms moving around the continent to make more money, rather than protect their workers. Employees legal rights across the EU were therefore not viewed as progressive as that proposed under Britain outside of EU legislation.
They also believed that being in the EU allowed free movement for workers which meant that wealthier countries that pay higher wages are more likely to see an influx of people seeking to move to the UK to seek bigger rewards for their work. As a result, there would be a rise in cheap labour – meaning that businesses would pay less and skilled workers would therefore miss out.
Ownership of Britain
One of the driving forces behind the Brexit movement, was the message of the nation reclaiming its own identity and direction for the future – something the Lexiteers agreed. As the EU covered many areas of the business and economy of the members states, some believed that they had a controlling stake over many of Britain’s interests and that other member states would get a better ‘deal’ in certain scenarios. Whether this is factually correct is a debate still being had today.
Why is it trending again?
With Brexit officially coming into force, many are still upset over the decision to leave the EU. In-fighting within the Labour party has been played out on social media in recent years, and with Brexit back to the top of the agenda, many wounds have been re-opened.
By searching through the #Lexit hashtag on Twitter, it is clear that the defining moment of the party was whether they should have backed a second referendum or been more involved with the planning on the current Brexit deal.