Socialist Worker

Divisions at the top over Theresa May’s Brexit

Issue No. 2547

It wont be an easy ride for Theresa May after triggering Article 50

It won't be an easy ride for Theresa May after triggering Article 50 (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) was set to start on Wednesday—along with a new round of headaches for the Tories.

After Theresa May triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, she will have to prepare for negotiations with EU states and a “Great Repeal Bill” in Westminster.

This would translate all EU law that affects Britain into the statute book. This complex task involving over 5,000 pieces of legislation is a challenge for a divided government with a slim majority.

A white paper set to be presented on Thursday could resort to exceptional powers.

According to the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph newspapers, its “Henry VIII clause” would let the government amend laws without consulting parliament.

In her speech on Monday, May had to address both the pro-EU establishment’s scepticism and the renewed prospect of Scottish independence.

One of the most immediate questions concerns the three million EU citizens in Britain.

May refuses to guarantee their rights, cynically using them as a bargaining chip in EU negotiations and scapegoats at home.


But there is resistance at all levels of society—from ordinary people right up to the top.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) groups across Britain were set to protest for EU nationals’ rights on Wednesday.

Bosses whose profits rely on immigrants’ labour have lobbied the government.

The Brexit department recommends keeping EU citizens’ rights intact, the Sunday Times revealed—despite a Tory manifesto pledge to cut their benefits.

Meanwhile EU leaders marked the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome that began European integration, saying it brought peace.

In reality it allowed declining empires to maintain their power.It pushes neoliberal policies while attacking refugees.

Bosses need migration, but they also need to keep austerity governments in office and workers’ resistance divided. Their interests are not ours.

Instead of rallying behind our enemies, workers can take advantage of the Tories’ difficulties by fighting to shape Brexit around our own demands.

This should start with a defence of migrants’ rights.

Join the SUTR protests this Wednesday, 29 March, CENTRAL LONDON - 5.30pm: Speak-Out with EU migrants at Downing Street BIRMINGHAM - 5.30pm Victoria Square B11 1BD MANCHESTER - 5.30pm Four Banks, Chortlon M21 9AB + Stockport Train Station (Near Holiday Inn) SK3 LEEDS: 7.30am - leaflet Leeds Train Station City Square entrance OXFORD: 5.30pm Carfax Tower HUDDERSFIELD: 5pm Rally Market Cross HD1 2AA PORTSMOUTH: 5.30pm - rally at Guildhall Square KENT - 5.30pm leafleting Gillingham station HACKNEY - 5.30pm Dalston Kingsland Station ISLINGTON - 5.30pm leafleting Highbury & Islington tube CHESTERFIELD - 5pm Chesterfield Station

Keir Starmer’s ‘six tests’ give no left alternative

Shadow Brexit minister gave Labour MPs room to try and block Brexit

Shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer gave Labour MPs room to try and block Brexit (Pic: Chatham House/Wikimedia commons)

The Labour Party’s shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer laid out the party’s “six tests” for the government’s final Brexit deal on Monday.

His plan could give Labour MPs room to try and block Brexit in the future.

The first two tests were about protecting big businesses by staying in the single market and keeping free trade without tariffs.

The sixth was that the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have to have “confidence” in the deal.

This means that the Scottish government and the Welsh Assembly could give Labour in parliament an excuse to oppose the deal.


Starmer also said the deal had to protect workplace rights. But the EU never guaranteed these rights.

And EU institutions that Starmer wants to keep, such as the single market, can threaten them.

Starmer said the Tories must guarantee the rights of EU nationals to stay in Britain. But disgracefully he also called for “fair and effective management of migration”.

He wants it make it harder for workers from outside Britain to live and work here.

The Tories want a racist, nationalist Brexit. But Starmer’s plan is no alternative.

Unite against racism—but not with Alastair Campbell

A placard on the Unite for Europe march patronises Leave voters

A placard on the Unite for Europe march patronises Leave voters (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Tens of thousands of people marched in London last Saturday against Brexit.

Some were there to defend the rights of EU migrants. And some who spoke to Socialist Worker seemed to understand that people voted to Leave out of anger at the system.

But there was an unpleasant atmosphere on the march. Many marchers wrapped themselves in the union flag, while homemade placards insulted Leave voters.

One block tried to lead a chant against racism, but few others joined in.

Socialist Worker heard one marcher in a suit jacket mutter to his friend, “Don’t want to be associated with that lot” as he hurried past.

Alastair Campbell, who invented the lies used to invade Iraq, spoke at the march.

Other speakers included former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and current leader Tim Farron.

However people voted in the referendum, they should unite against racism. But nobody should be fooled by Campbell, Clegg and Farron’s big business operation.

Borders kill more refugees

At least 240 refugees and migrants are thought to have died after two boats capsized off the coast of Libya last week, according to a Spanish aid organisation.

More people in lower quality boats are trying to reach Europe from North African countries after a European Union (EU) clampdown closed safer routes.

Eleven Syrians, including five children, also drowned in the Aegean sea between Turkey and Greece.

The EU has closed its land borders with Turkey, and EU and Nato guards patrol the Aegean.

It signed a deportations-for-aid deal with Turkey and is trying to set up another with Libya.

These policies drive desperate people to risk—and lose—their lives.

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