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

The Tories cannot govern

by Daphne Liddle

LAST WEEK’S fiasco over the Brexit negotiations, when Prime Minister Theresa May thought she had a sort of general agreement on essential principles and was ready to engage with stage two of the negotiations, only to have the rug pulled from under her by the Democratic Unionist Party, shows the Tory party is now incapable of acting on behalf of the people of Britain.

Merely changing the Tory leadership would make no difference. Not Boris Johnson, David Davis, Phil Hammond nor Jacob Rees-Mogg could negotiate for Britain in Brussels because the British Parliament is hopelessly divided and will not back any agreement they try to make.

Other European Union governments — all with their own domestic problems — will inevitably have to impose terms that are most favourable to them in the absence of properly authorised negotiators from Britain.

Our government is a rudderless ship in these negotiations and the sooner the captain acknowledges this and hands over to the Labour leadership-in-waiting, the more we are likely we are to be able to salvage something from the mess.

A Survation opinion poll published in the Mail on Sunday this week showed Labour with an eight-point lead over the Tories. And after this week’s fiasco over Brexit negotiations, the Labour lead is likely to grow even more.

May is the author of her own predicament. Last year she called a snap election to secure a bigger majority — arrogantly as suming Labour would lose votes. Remarkably she seemed not to notice the massive groundswell of support for Jeremy Corbyn and ended up with a minority government — which was divided within itself over Brexit.

To try to cling to power May did a devil’s deal with the right-wing extremist Democratic Unionist Party from the occupied six counties of the north of Ireland — and this deal is now what will sink her.

The issue of the border between the south and occupied north of Ireland has been a sticking point in the Brexit negotiations. The border is open — an essential tenet of the Good Friday Agreement.

But if the Republic of Ireland remains in the EU while the occupied six counties remain under British administration, logistically there has to be a customs border there.

This is what Arlene Foster is insisting on while the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar, is insisting there must be no return of a “hard” border, which could wreck the Good Friday Agreement.

The solution is obvious — remove the border completely and put the “hard” customs border between the whole of Ireland and Britain. Arlene Foster could then boast to her DUP friends of being the woman who triggered the reunification of Ireland. The ghosts of James Connolly and Padraig Pearse would be dancing.

It has long been a contradiction that one sovereign state of the EU has occupied six counties of another EU sovereign state.

Chief negotiator on behalf of Theresa May is David Davis. Some months ago he was tasked with making a series of assessments of the economic impact of leaving the EU on various sector of the British economy.

But on Wednesday morning in committee Davis admitted that the impact assessments had not been done. Davis said the usefulness of such assessments would be “near zero” because of the scale of change Brexit is likely to cause.

He said the Government had produced a “sectoral analysis” of different industries but not a “forecast” of what would happen when the Britain leaves the EU.

At Wednesday morning’s Brexit committee hearing, chairman Hilary Benn asked whether impact assessments had been carried out into various parts of the economy, listing the automotive, aerospace and financial sectors.

“I think the answer’s going to be no to all of them,” Davis responded. When Benn suggested this was “strange”, the minister said formal assessments were not needed to know that “regulatory hurdles” would have an impact, describing Brexit as a “paradigm change” of similar impact to the financial crash, which could not be predicted.

“I am not a fan of economic models because they have all proven wrong,” he said.

Later in the House of Commons Jeremy Corbyn called it a “shambles”. The Liberal Democrats said impact assessments were urgently needed while the SNP called it an “ongoing farce”.

This suggests that May’s negotiating team have simply not done their homework and are casting about for excuses. They are amateurs who have no idea what they are doing.

We need a team of real and experienced negotiators and the Labour Party and trade union movement have plenty of them.