Socialist Worker

Tories stand on the edge of collapse, as May's Brexit deal falls again

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2648


Brexit is breaking the Tories

The government is breaking down after another defeat for Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

But the rot goes much deeper.

May lost the vote on Friday by 286 MPs’ votes to 344, a majority against of 58. Most Labour MPs, the DUP bigots and dozens of Tories voted against.

May has tried the desperate measure of asking MPs to accept only part of her deal. But it failed.

Her speech after the vote calling for a continued move to an “orderly Brexit” had more than the usual air of fantasy.

The deal lost by 230 votes in January and 149 earlier in March.

The smaller margin of defeat this time was partly due to some Tories such as Jacob Rees-Mogg fearing that Brexit would be lost entirely if they didn’t vote for May’s deal. During the debate before the vote May said it was the “last opportunity to guarantee Brexit”.

And May’s promise to resign if the deal went through also unlocked some votes—especially among those such as Boris Johnson who hope to grab the top job.

The Tories’ chaotic disarray has become still worse.

On Thursday night, Newsnight reported that a cabinet minister, was asked why May was pressing ahead with another vote on the same deal.

The minister replied, “Fuck knows, I am past caring. It’s like the living dead in here.”

But it’s not just the Tories who are in danger of collapse.


International trade secretary Liam Fox was trying to scare MPs into voting for May’s deal, but he was right to say that today, “I think that our current political structures are at risk. I think that there would be a chasm of distrust that would open up between voters and the current political system.”

Millions of people will look at the outdated, incomprehensible, remote and unaccountable goings-on in parliament and rightly think that this system does not work.

It won’t be just the 17.4 million who voted Leave in 2016 and expected that 29 March would be the day Britain left the European Union (EU). It will also be millions who voted Remain or didn’t vote who are sick of the process. 

Most of the debate has been about how to fit in with the demands of big business and the desire to restrict migration. It has ignored ordinary people who need a break from the British government’s austerity and racism and the EU-imposed neoliberalism and racism.

The defeat of the deal means that Britain is headed to leave the EU on 12 April unless there is some new plan or an extension to the leaving date before them.

Any further extension would mean that Britain almost certainly has to take part in the European Parliament elections scheduled for 23-26 May.

More votes are scheduled for Monday on the alternatives to May’s deal. On Wednesday eight such measures were discussed, but none achieved a majority.

The most popular options were a second Brexit referendum (268 votes in favour, 295 against) and a customs union between Britain and the EU (265 votes in favour, 271 against).

It’s completely unclear if any scheme can obtain a majority now.

As the votes were announced an assortment of right wing, far right and fascist forces were gathering around Parliament. They are hoping to strengthen their forces on the streets and to gain momentum if there is a second referendum or European parliamentary elections.  

A Stand Up To Racism counter-demonstration was gathering from 4pm in Richmond Terrace.

The racists and fascists must not be allowed to pose as the friends of ordinary people.

But there is still a great vacuum where the trade union leaders and Labour should be mobilising people for working class demands.

These debates could link Brexit to defence of the NHS, a reversal of privatisation, action on climate change, emergency action over housing and other measures that could change the debate.

It’s time to step up the action for the removal of May and all the Tories—and an anti-austerity and anti-racist Brexit.

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