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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


Goodbye to the European Union

ON 23rd June 2016 Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU). Now, after many unnecessary delays caused by what can bluntly be called sabotage of the will of the people by the bulk of the British Establishment and two General Elections that were dominated by the issue, final negotiations have been concluded.

That the negotiations were tough was largely because Franco-German capitalism wanted to punish Britain to act as a deterrent for those in other member states from following Britain’s example. Workers in many countries such as Portugal and Greece who have grievously suffered from the dictates of Franco-German imperialism, had to be given a firm warning about the dangers of breaking the stranglehold of Brussels. These smaller countries are never allowed the leeway occasionally given to larger countries when Brussels’ policies are toned down for electoral expediency.

As might be expected, the final deal leaves much to be desired. This particular one was negotiated by a right-wing Tory Prime Minister who was something of a latecomer to the cause of Euroscepticism and who was anxious that it would not greatly inconvenience the City of London, which has always been the main concern of British governments, Labour and Tory alike. Boris Johnson was not in the least concerned with matters such as rulings from the European Court of Justice, which restricted the right to industrial action, nor with allowing government intervention to save jobs and industries.

There are of course remaining problems, such as the position of Northern Ireland and on the ability of Westminster and the devolved assemblies to shape the UK. British fishermen grumble they have been sold out, but their position is much improved from that which prevailed when Britain was still tied to EU rules. In general, the agreement is one of maintaining the status quo as regards relations between Britain and the EU, and restrictions remain on what Britain can do in terms of intervening in the economy.

But the main thing is that we are out of the clutches of one particular neoliberal institution, and the working class need not be bound by agreements made by the boss class.

It is a common smear from Guardian-reading liberals and capitalist supporters of the EU that opponents of that saintly organisation are motivated by racism. Such people like to gloss over the fact that the first person in Britain to advocate signing up for the 1958 Treaty of Rome that founded what was to become the European Union was Sir Oswald Mosley, for whom joining was a major platform of his revived fascist Union Movement. Older readers will never be able to forget that photograph of Margaret Thatcher wearing a jumper with Common Market flags during the 1975 referendum. Even the Daily Mail, often denounced by liberals for its opposition to the EU, is owned by an aristocratic pro-EU family. It is worth remembering that Nigel Farage, the most high-profile opponent of the EU, despite his former employment in the City of London, has never in any way represented the great bulk of Britain’s parasitical financial companies who have never worried.

Opposition to the EU in its various guises has been a long-standing feature of the left in Britain. The old Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and its successor bodies were and are adamantly opposed to it. Within the Labour Party opposition was not confined to the left, represented in recent decades by the Bennite tradition. The NCP can be justly proud of its role in a victory for the working class that provides a grounding for further advance – but only with a struggle.