Boris Johnson’s rotten deal with the European Union (EU) faced key tests in parliament this week.
MPs were voting on the principle of backing the withdrawal agreement bill as Socialist Worker went to press.
Another vote was scheduled on how much debate would be allowed on the details.
If enough MPs backed Johnson on both of these then it was possible that the plan could be rammed through the Commons by Thursday and go to the House of Lords this weekend.
Johnson has been forced to send a letter to EU leaders asking for an extension to the Brexit deadline.
But Britain could still leave the EU by Thursday of next week. However, MPs from several parties were likely to table a string of amendments seeking to tweak the deal.
They include pushing the government to negotiate a customs union with the EU and to hold a second referendum.
If such an amendment passed, the Tories would have to accept it or make another bid for a general election. There are good reasons to be against the deal.
It leads towards an end to workers’ freedom of movement and clears the way for an even harsher set of anti-migrant laws than presently exist.
It keeps the EU single market’s neoliberal competition and state-aid rules for a long transition period after Britain leaves.
But it also takes away the fig leaf of concern over workers’ rights, equality and environmental protection that was in Theresa May’s version.
It no longer guarantees that there will be a “level playing field” with EU regulations.
All such rights are put in the context of “open and fair competition”. The government insists it will offer EU nationals already in Britain the right to live and work here. But there are serious doubts about what would happen to those who do not complete the registration scheme.
Ministers say most people have registered, but serious questions remain about such figures.
The official statistics show the total number of applications received under the scheme, and not the total of applicants.
There are large numbers of re-applications due to being rejected for some bureaucratic reason.
That means many EU nationals may not register by the deadline—and might eventually be deported.
The bad reason to be against the deal is because it diverges from EU customs and market regulations and “harms business”.
These EU rules are a machine for privatisation and curbing government spending. They should be junked.
The alternative to Johnson’s deal is not endless manoeuvres or posing as the bosses’ best friends.
It is to fight to get the Tories out.