As we go to press Theresa May is still trying to blackmail both wings of her party by threatening Remainers with a No Deal Brexit and hard line Leavers with No Brexit. The other threat she holds over them is the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street. Meanwhile Corbyn has set his face against the members and maintained the party’s commitment to Brexit, which will cost jobs, drive down wages, and fuel the rise of the far right.
The so-called justification for this dereliction of responsibility is the fact that a minority of Labour supporters voted Leave, and many target seats are in Leave constituencies. This pure electoral triangulation is buttressed with the argument that the EU is the principal obstacle to Labour carrying out its modest programme of nationalising public utilities and railways.
In fact the first line of resistance to a Labour government which really tried to make inroads into the profits of the rich would be the backbenches of the PLP, the City of London, and the courts. The flimsy EU structures would have a very distant part in that fight, especially compared to the potential strength of our natural allies in the European working class movement.
In whatever form it comes, Brexit is a reactionary, nationalist project that, by fuelling a conflict between British and non-British workers, by promoting the utopia of a ‘sovereign’ UK within the international capitalist system, erects a serious obstacle to working class advance in Britain and Europe. That is why migration is at the heart of the debate, it is why the only thing that the Tories and Labour agree on is that migrant numbers should be driven down, and migrants given fewer rights than ‘British’ workers.
Labour’s policy on Brexit has never been debated seriously at either branches and constituency level or at Annual Conference. Another Europe is Possible and Labour Against Brexit are correct to fight for a democratic decision on the deal; one which contains the option of abandoning Brexit altogether.
Many supporters of Corbyn’s fudge argue that if we were to campaign to halt Brexit then this would lead to a rampage by the right. But whatever the outcome of Brexit, the right will be able to take advantage of it; May’s “soft Brexit” will be called “Brexit in Name Only” and the resulting economic impact will be blamed on not achieving a “hard Brexit”. The even worse consequences of “No-Deal” will be blamed on “Europe” taking its revenge for Britain regaining sovereignty. Naturally, if Brexit is somehow defeated altogether, this will be a “betrayal” of the ‘Will of the People’, stabbed in the back by politicians.
We must not give an inch on this terrain. Left supporters of Brexit, such as the SWP and, indeed, the Labour leadership around Jeremy Corbyn, are hamstrung by their refusal to accept the link between Brexit and racism.
Those who cannot accept that Brexit is a reactionary project from start to finish are condemned to the sidelines in the central struggle in British politics or, worse, to promoting concessions over migration which inject the poison of chauvinism into the multi-national British working class.
Red Flag calls for a vote against any Brexit and a special conference to give party members the final say.