The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 8th September 2017

Brexit blues and Labour woes

JUST WHEN you think the silly season is over we’ve been swamped with stories about Theresa May’s plans to stay on as Prime Minister and lead the Conservatives into the next election, along with the usual rubbish about the royal family, designed to detract us from global warming and Trump’s threats to plunge the world into a nuclear war over Korea.

But nothing can mask the open divisions within the ruling class over Europe, and the increasing impotence and irrelevance of May’s coalition government in every international arena.

The Tory Eurosceptics reflect the interests of the bourgeoisie who believe that their global interests are best served under the protection of US imperialism. They are clearly the dominant faction within the May government that relies entirely on the votes of 10 sectarian bigots from northern Ireland to maintain its majority in Parliament.

The Europhile wing of the bourgeoisie, which dominated the Conservative Party during the Thatcher era, believes that their future lies in partnership with Franco-German imperialism whose avowed aim is to build the new European super-state envisaged in the Treaty of Rome.

Last year’s Brexit vote was a deep shock to them. Their initial response was to try to build a pro-European mass movement on the back of the remnants of the Liberal Democrats and the Blairites in the Labour Party. But all their petitions, ‘youth’ marches and attempts to replace Jeremy Corbyn with an openly pro-EU [European Union] Labour leader came to nothing; and Tony Blair’s brief return to the fray was the kiss of death to any hopes of building another ‘Third Way’. That left them with the unpalatable but only alternative, which is to work for the return of a Labour government, even under Jeremy Corbyn, that would water-down Brexit and create the conditions for a second referendum to reverse the outcome of last year’s vote.

Millions of workers and trade unionists are opposed to Britain’s continued membership of the EU. Millions of trade unionists voted for Brexit in the June 2016 referendum. Labour recognised the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first. But this mass support to leave the EU is not reflected in the views of the majority of Labour MPs. Some unions, including the bakers’, RMT and ASLEF, have taken the principled stand against continued EU membership. But the leaderships of most of the other unions still support continued EU membership.

Now the Labour leadership say they want to keep Britain inside the European single market and customs union indefinitely, and plan to oppose the Brexit Bill in Parliament on the grounds that it would “let government ministers grab powers from Parliament to slash people’s rights at work and reduce protection for consumers and the environment”.

Predictably, Kate Hoey, the maverick Labour Eurosceptic backbencher, is already warning that Labour risks “reviving” UKIP if it derails Brexit. That’s not so sure. UKIP has collapsed and their former leader Nigel Farage has found a more lucrative career in the media. The real risk is the revival of demands for another referendum — one in which all the Europhile resources will be marshalled to try to keep Britain within the EU.

Communists also have a crucial role in putting the case for Brexit on the working-class agenda. The EU exists solely for the benefit of the oppressors and exploiters. What few benefits the EU possesses, such as increased trade and open borders, can equally be achieved through separate agreements and treaties. The EU is neither genuinely federal nor democratic, and every stage of European integration has been financed by working people through higher indirect taxes, lost jobs and lost benefits. The EU cannot be reformed. We don’t want another referendum. The sooner we leave the better.