Socialist Worker

May’s frantic fight in Brexit deal vote

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2632

Theresa May delivers a speech at Downing Street yesterday on her Brexit deal

Theresa May delivers a speech at Downing Street yesterday on her Brexit deal (Pic: Number10/Creative Commons)

Theresa May and big business are desperately trying to whip MPs into backing the Tory Brexit deal.

Time is running out for the Tory prime minister. May will put her European Union (EU) Withdrawal Agreement to a parliamentary vote in less than two weeks’ time on Tuesday 11 December.

May was boxed in from all sides as she embarked on her tour of Britain on Monday to drum up support for the deal.

A growing number of right wing Tory backbenchers have said that they will vote against the “surrender document”.

And the bigots of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up the Tory government, have said they won’t support it.

May was reduced to an unsuccessful bid to win over Labour MPs in a special briefing on Monday night.

The deal is a bosses and bigots’ charter—MPs should vote it down. Big business is desperate to remain in the racist, neoliberal EU because it protects profits.

While bosses see the withdrawal agreement as a poor compromise, it gives them just enough assurances.

Crucially the Tory deal keeps the EU single market’s competition and state-aid rules for a 21-month transition period after Britain leaves in March 2019. And corporations are already pushing for these rules to be written into British law when it ends.

Under single market rules a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government would be allowed to nationalise individual rail or utility companies.

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Yet they would have to remain in competition with other private firms. The single market bans governments from nationalising a whole industry and running it as a public service.

The Tory deal is a launchpad for further racist attacks on migrants’ rights.

It ends freedom of movement and will make the three million EU migrants already in Britain pay to stay and jump through bureaucratic hoops for residents’ rights.

If the deal doesn’t go through the first time, there’s nothing to stop May from making MPs vote on it a second time.

Some Labour MPs see that as an opportunity to push for a “People’s Vote”.

Many people back a second referendum out of disgust at May and vile reactionary Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees-Mogg.

But the People’s Vote campaign is led by big business and Blairite “centrists” who offer no solution to austerity or racism.

And the EU, with its neoliberal rules and racist borders that drown refugees, is no progressive alternative.

The real alternative is to force a general election and boot out May and the whole Tory regime of cuts and privatisation.

And the left should argue for a socialist, anti-racist Brexit that says “No to the single market” and “Yes to freedom of movement”.

Arguments over Gibraltar rock talks

Britain’s rule of Gibraltar has become another flashpoint in the Tory Brexit crisis.

Theresa May agreed that the British possession in southern Spain might not be part of a future free trade agreement after Britain leaves the European Union (EU) in March of next year.

The Spanish government had threatened to veto any future Brexit agreement if it didn’t have a say over Gibraltar.

May’s concession meant that the EU’s 27 governments endorsed the Tory deal last week.

But it has further boxed her in between right wing Tory Brexit supporters.

The Tory right has made clear that it will not accept Britain giving up any control over Gibraltar. It’s similarly incensed that British-ruled Northern Ireland could remain part of the EU customs arrangement.

May’s concession will only make them ramp up this sort of nationalist posturing.

A British and Dutch Fleet first seized Gibraltar during an 18th century war to prevent a potential joint kingdom of Spain and France.

It was officially granted to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

It became a useful military and trading outpost as Britain grew as an imperial power in the aftermath of the war.

While Britain has long ceased to be a world power, British bosses still use Gibraltar as a tax haven.

The British have no right to rule over Gibraltar.

‘No to the bosses’ club’

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Over 250 people joined a meeting on Corbyn, the labour movement and a People’s Brexit in central London last Thursday.

Speakers included Labour MP Graham Stringer, Guardian journalist Larry Elliot, socialist academic Costas Lapavitsas and Lindsey German from Counterfire.

Everyone was united behind the message that the EU is a bosses’ club that stands for the few, not the many.

But some asked if freedom of movement for EU migrants undermined wages, terms and conditions.

Socialist economist Grace Blakeley argued for a Brexit that breaks from the EU’s single market and defends migrants’ rights.

She called for “limits on the movement of capital and continued free movement of people”.

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