Socialist Worker

Brexit could have meant more than this

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2734

Boris Johnson is attempting to finalise a deal at the eleventh hour

Boris Johnson is attempting to finalise a deal at the eleventh hour (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)


The Tories and Boris Johnson desperately continued their faltering attempts to broker a Brexit trade deal this week.

Talks between Johnson and the European Union (EU) were on a “knife’s edge” the prime minister of Ireland Micheal Martin said at the start of the week.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said both parties were still at odds on a number of issues despite reports of breakthroughs. 

All of this comes after assurances from the Tories that Britain holds the upper hand in negotiations.

What lies behind the divisions over Brexit?
What lies behind the divisions over Brexit?
  Read More

Whatever the final result of the negotiations it is crucial to remember that the original vote in 2016 was at its centre a revolt against the establishment.

People who are generally forgotten, ignored or sneered at delivered a stunning blow against the people at the top of society. 

The reasons for that rebellion were contradictory, but that did not change the essential character of what took place. A minority of Leave voters were motivated by racism. 

More were fed up with being abandoned to intolerable conditions while the rich and the politicians prospered. There were—and are—many good reasons to be against the EU. 

These include its ­hardwired pro-austerity policies, its total lack of democracy, its rules to aid bosses and its murderous border regime. The feeling against the elites could have led to a Brexit in the interests of working class people. 

Extended

That would have broken from the pro-business single market regime but maintained and extended workers’ freedom of movement.

It would have been linked to more money for the NHS and education, a higher minimum wage, action on climate chaos and other issues. This is what supporters of a left exit from the EU (Lexit) argued. To win such a Brexit would have required mass pressure. 

Instead the Tories have come up with various versions of Brexit designed to make it even easier for the bosses to exploit people. 

They hanker after a “Singapore on Thames” where workers’ rights are shredded and racist laws are strengthened.

And Labour eventually conceded the demand for a second referendum. This proved disastrous at last year’s general election.

Now leader Keir Starmer—who led the push for a second referendum—is set to demand that Labour MPs vote for a rotten Tory Brexit.

It is right to oppose the EU but also to reject the Tory version of Brexit.

And whatever the divisions over the EU, the left has to unite against racism, the jobs crisis and the government’s disastrous coronavirus policies.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.