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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


No unity with the Tories!

by New Worker correspondent

BORIS JOHNSON remains in intensive care after being struck down by COVID-19 last week. But aides denied Russian media claims that Johnson had developed pneumonia and had been put on a ventilator, saying his condition was “stable” after receiving oxygen treatment at St Thomas’ hospital in central London.

US President Donald Trump has offered to send over some US pharmaceutical drugs for Johnson’s treatment. But these drugs are still at the development stage and they are not available on the market. A Downing Street spokesman later told the media that they were not interested in Trump’s offer of “experimental drugs”, saying that any treatment Boris Johnson receives “is a matter for his doctors”.

In the meantime Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is standing in for the stricken premier under the “designated survivor” contingency plan drawn up last month to prepare for such emergencies. If Raab also goes down the next in line is the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

Meanwhile, calls for an emergency government of national unity have grown following Sir Keith Starmer’s victory in the Labour leadership race last week. Although Jeremy Corbyn was willing to liaise with the Government over the “coronacrisis” at the Privy Council level, the former Labour leader was opposed to any formal grand coalition with the Conservatives. This was also Starmer’s view. But now some in his camp say that if an offer to join a unity government was made, it would be “hard to say no” given Sir Keir’s “statesmanlike” instincts. A “senior ally” told the Financial Times: “You can’t appear to be churlish to the British public when there is a crisis and people are dying.”

supported

It’s a call supported by Manuel Cortes, the leader of the TSSA transport union, and the New European, a weekly paper set up in 2016 in support of the European Union. It is also the view of LabourList, the web-based voice of Blairite has-beens who’ve been given a new lease of life following Starmer’s victory in the Labour leadership elections.

Clearly the Remainers believe that with a staunch Europhile at the helm of the Labour Party they can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat now that the Tories are rudderless with Johnson in hospital.

Boris Johnson has many enemies within the Tory constituency – not least the Remainer grandees unceremoniously booted out of the Conservative party last year for opposing the Brexit agenda in parliament. They would be happy to make common cause with those in favour of a grand coalition that would share the blame for the mishandling of the health crisis that is stretching the resources of the NHS to the limit and take responsibility for the tax hikes needed in the future to pay for the increased emergency social provision and the billions paid out to bail-out the private rail and aviation industries. That workers should pay for most of it is something Tories of all hues can agree on.

Although Britain has formally left the European Union the UK remains tied to the Brussels strait-jacket during the “transition” period that ends this year. The Remainers will argue that this should now be extended to allow the Government to concentrate on tackling the coronavirus plague and avoid any disruption of trade during the emergency. A new “national government” would then take over the Brexit “divorce” negotiations, which could then open the door to another referendum that they hope will reverse the historic British decision in 2016 to leave the EU.

The Corbynist Labour Representation Committee (LRC) said this week: “The tragedy of the pandemic crisis demands a strong socialist response. The Tories, like right-wing governments around the world, are sacrificing the well-being of the people to the god of profit. They will attempt to use the situation to impose more austerity and greater authoritarianism. We on the left must nurture the spirit of community and grass-roots organisation that the crisis has generated up and down the country, if we are to resist the rightward shift in national politics and within our own party.”