Cracks in establishment politics are turning into chasms.
The gap between the chaos and cynical manoeuvres at Westminster and the lives of ordinary people is bigger than ever.
What we’re seeing now is not just a crisis of a prime minister or the Tory party. It’s a crisis of the undemocratic, unaccountable and remote way politics is done.
Theresa May, under a barrage of big business demands to rule out a no-deal Brexit, performed a screeching U-turn from her previous policy this week.
May had insisted for months that Britain would leave the EU on 29 March without a deal if none was agreed. On Tuesday she offered MPs the chance to block a no-deal Brexit.
On 12 March MPs will be given a “meaningful vote” on whatever changes to her deal May can claim to have extracted from the EU.
The deal was already rejected by 230 votes in January. If MPs reject her deal again, May would give them yet another vote.
This would decide whether to press ahead with a no-deal Brexit on 29 March or to opt for “a short extension” to the exit process.
May’s collapse follows threats of a mass revolt at the heart of the government. According to the Daily Mail newspaper, a secret meeting of 23 ministers took place on Monday night.
It reported that up to 15 said they would resign if May didn’t take away the drive towards a no-deal Brexit.
May’s retreat might buy off some of the critics—but it won’t solve any of her problems.
There is no solution through juggling parliamentary arithmetic or by trying to be acceptable to ruling class forces
Why will a three or six month extension make a rotten deal more acceptable?
But what’s guaranteed is that delaying Brexit will be seen as a betrayal by many Tory MPs and most of the party’s members.
Last Saturday the Conservative National Convention—a meeting of top local officials—overwhelmingly passed a motion calling for no delay to Brexit.
And even before May had made her announcement on Tuesday, Plymouth Tory MP Johnny Mercer waded in bitterly.
“You’ve had ministers happily taking home their salary and ministerial cars saying ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’,” he said. “But when it comes closer ‘No, we’re going to do something else’.”
It’s not just the Tories who are in chaos. Labour has said it will back a second referendum if its own plan for Brexit is defeated this week.
It’s a response to pressure from big business and the Labour right, and comes after nine Labour MPs defected from the party.
It’s dressed up as concern for jobs and as listening to Labour members. But in reality Labour’s leaders have crumbled to demands from bosses, bankers and right wing Labour MPs.
What will happen if Labour is in government and faces infinitely more ferocious pressure from the rich and powerful?
There is no solution through juggling parliamentary arithmetic or by trying to be acceptable to ruling class forces.
Working class people will have to get rid of the Tories through their own struggles.
The alternative is to let the Tories wreck our lives while Labour and the union leaders simply observe the carnage.