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Parliament votes won’t solve Tory Brexit crisis

This article is over 5 years, 4 months old
There is still time to put forward anti-racist arguments over Brexit, argues Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue 2645
May claimed victory in last minute talks, but her nightmare was far from over
May claimed victory in last minute talks, but her nightmare was far from over (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)

Theresa May was forced to bring her Brexit deal back to parliament on Tuesday after months of delays.

But the Tory prime minister looked likely to suffer yet another parliamentary defeat as Socialist Worker went to press.

She claimed to have won “legally binding” changes relating to Northern Ireland at 11th hour talks with EU negotiators on Monday night.

The border with Ireland has scuppered previous attempts to win support for the deal. With the Tories split into hostile factions, May long ago lost a real ­parliamentary majority.

She has had to appease the right wing Brexiteer backbenchers and the bigots of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Both said that they wouldn’t back May’s deal.

If it doesn’t pass, MPs were expected to vote on ruling out ­a “no-deal Brexit” on Wednesday and extending the Article 50 Brexit process on Thursday. Whatever the outcome of the votes, the government’s troubles are far from over.


Tory splits and parliamentary impasse flow from deeper divisions over big business and bigotry. The CBI bosses’ group piled pressure onto MPs to back May’s deal ahead of the vote on Tuesday.

John Allan, CBI president and Tesco supermarket chairman, made a panicked plea at the annual business leaders’ dinner last week. “Our message to politicians is clear—unite around the prime minister’s deal,” he said. “Or unite around something—urgently.”

Most British bosses want to stay in the EU because it allows them to compete with bigger rivals such as China.

And the rules of the EU’s single market restrict a Labour government’s ability to nationalise whole industries and run them as public services. The Tories understand this as the party of big business. But May has also made a play for right wing, racist votes by ­promising to dump freedom of movement for migrants.

The Tories plan a host of vicious attacks against migrants. But pressure forced the British government to promise that EU migrants already living in Britain could stay.

And outrage forced them to scrap the £65 charge to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

Tory retreats show that a racist clampdown is not an inevitable part of Brexit—and can be resisted.

The options of “soft Brexit” or “hard Brexit”—deal or no-deal Brexit—are all false choices for working class people.

The Brexit deal will be a bad deal so long as it is based on Tory policies of austerity and racism. The left should put forward an anti-austerity and anti-racist vision for Brexit based around slogans such as, “Yes to freedom of movement” and “No to the single market”.

The inaction of Labour and the union leaders has helped make working class people into spectators of parliamentary manoeuvres. To break through that there needs to be more action on the streets, campuses and workplaces to drive out the whole Tory regime.

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