Socialist Worker

Tories splinter as warnings of a no-deal Brexit grow

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2619

Brexit minister Dominic Raab

Brexit minister Dominic Raab (Pic: Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Govt/Flickr)

Theresa May was forced to schedule an emergency cabinet meeting last Friday amid deepening Tory splits over Brexit.

It is another sign that the parliamentary summer holidays have brought only limited respite for the beleaguered Tory prime minister.

The divisions over the shape of the Brexit deal—or the possibility or no deal—go right through the heart of the cabinet and backbenches.

And they are unlikely to be healed at the emergency cabinet meeting on 13 September.

The latest row erupted after Remain-supporting chancellor Philip Hammond warned of economic catastrophe if there was a no-deal Brexit. He claimed British capitalism would haemorrhage 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product and see borrowing up by £80 billion.

It was well-timed to undermine Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, who had begun publishing a series of 84 “technical notices” on Brexit. These outline the Tory government’s plans if there is a no-deal Brexit.

The detail shows the Tories are determined to protect their friends in the City of London and big business. And they show that working class people are being offered a false choice between a “soft” or “hard Brexit” or a deal or no-deal Brexit.

The European Union’s (EU) single market is designed to protect bosses’ interests.


The free market is hard-wired into its rulebook, which blocks EU member states from nationalising whole industries and bars many forms of state intervention.

The technical notice on state aid shows how the Tories want to structure Brexit to protect profits for the fat cats. Raab’s technical notice says that control of “anti-competitive subsidies” will be used in “all sectors”.

Another technical notice on financial services makes clear they will protect bankers. Banks and businesses registered in EU countries can operate within any member state under a process known as “passporting”.

Raab makes clear they will retain passporting for at least three years. That’s because the Tories fear Brussels or Frankfurt could overtake the City of London as the world’s financial gambling capital.

The Tories’ right wing, racist version of Brexit will seek to undermine workers and migrants’ rights.

But the solution is not to line up with the EU and its right wing liberal hangers-on in the British establishment.

The likes of Blairite war criminal Alastair Campbell, who’s heading up the People’s Vote campaign, offers no progressive alternative to the Tories.

The answer is to resist all Tory attacks and unite around fighting for a socialist, anti-racist vision of Brexit that defends workers’ and migrants’ rights.

No to a second referendum

John McDonnell agreed with a shadow cabinet colleague’s warning that a second Brexit referendum risked giving “succour to the extreme right”. He then said Labour remained open to the idea.

This somersault is a sign of the growing pressure—from the People’s Vote campaign and others—on the Labour leadership to shift its position.

Many people support a second referendum, because of genuine fears about the rise of the far right, or the impact on people’s jobs.

But the people who lead this movement offer no solutions.

A second referendum would draw a line of division in every workplace in Britain between two versions of right wing policies. And it would make it harder to build working class unity to resist the Tories attacks.

Aid to Africa is about helping British bosses

Theresa May toured South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya this week in a desperate bid to shore up trade in a post-Brexit world.

“I am unashamed about the need to ensure that our aid programme works for Britain,” she said.

That means using the aid budget to push the interests of British capitalism—29 bosses’ representatives travelled with her to South Africa.

As well as Britain, the EU, the US and China are jostling for position across Africa. May wants to use foreign aid as a weapon in that fight.

Foreign aid has always come with strings attached, or ends up going to forces whose interests align with Britain’s.

The history of foreign aid is steeped in imperialism
The history of foreign aid is steeped in imperialism
  Read More

May’s announcement is also a response to attacks from Tory right wingers who hate any whiff of giving money to “foreigners”.

In fact the money given is a pittance compared to the plunder of countries by British imperialism—which continues today.

May was also responding to chancellor Philip Hammond’s prediction that a no-deal Brexit would cost £80 billion.

“If we are in that situation, we can make a success of it,” said May. There was a note of desperation in the statement. There’s a reason Britain trades primarily within the EU—it’s more profitable for British bosses because the markets are larger and tariff-free.

In desperation, May wants to reinvigorate the exploitative relationship with Britain’s former colonies.

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