Brexit may have sections of the UK’s ruling elite at each other’s throat but it should be clear to everyone by now that while there will be winners and losers in that battle, the situation for the vast majority of us will continue to get worse. The European Union is a gigantic, undemocratic experiment in the free market but it would be wrong to think that the people battling for a hard Brexit or a no deal Brexit or any other kind of absolutist Brexit have something against capitalism.
If the UK does leave then it will have to face the consequences not just of the battles within the Tory party at present but life after Theresa May. As I keep banging on about, the Prime Minister could last a full term in office or she could be out by the time you’ve finished reading this. Meanwhile the absolute Brexiteers circle in the background for their chance.
Chief among them are Boris Johnson who is now nurturing his inner Trump by writing Islamaphobic articles for the mainstream press. He’s putting his populist message out there and what is the result? First an investigation but what then? Well, as I write this I see a poll since his article was published giving the Tories a sudden spike in popularity. The socially liberal wing of the Tory party might want to shut him up but I suspect he’s speaking the same kind of language as many Conservative members and ultimately it would come down to them in any leadership contest. A Boris campaign supported by their darling, Jacob Rees-Mogg could be hard for anyone else to beat.
With Boris as Prime Minister as Rees-Mogg as chancellor we can expect great relations with America and the chance of the UK being “Great Again”. The Tories would win a landslide thanks to all the demise of UKIP and the support of working class fascists.
Brexit will be brutal whatever. We have the prospect of freedom of movement being curtailed, with more families pulled apart. Then there is the powers being extracted from the EU and placed directly in the hands of ministers for them to ditch or change without any votes in parliament. When it comes to safety at work and trade union rights we can expect what little we have in rights to be eroded further. The chance for working class people to organise effectively is going to be all the harder.
Meanwhile the people leading the charge for Brexit all believe in the free market which requires them to actually support free movement of capital, and therefore of labour. What they don’t want is free movement within the confines of the EU as a bureaucratic entity. What is annoying the EU is attempts by the British government of having the same free movement agreements without the bureaucratic union. In the long term this could mean just different immigration restrictions depending on what country the UK is dealing with at any particular time. This is about controlling immigration ultimately, rather than limiting it. Ultimately our future rulers will want immigration to run to market forces.
Then there is a prospect of a Labour government with a leader who is also known to want the UK out of the EU. Governments pass quickly and their reforms are therefore replaceable but there’s a chance that some Labour reforms may benefit people at large. This would be offset by a renewed hatred in government of rank and file union activity. Labour loves a good hierarchy for the working class and they won’t want people spoiling their time in office by holding strikes. The working class will be crushed by bureaucracy under Labour. For all the talk Corbyn makes stopping British workers having their wages ‘undermined’ by immigration, he will sell us all out if we try to organise strikes under his watch.
I’ve never understood the left’s argument against the EU. It appeared to be around how undemocratic the organisation was; in which case they could have argued to democratise it. Instead of that people like Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn chose to argue for the UK being out of the EU, probably because they knew that to democratise the institutions of the EU would mean a loss of sovereignty and that would be hard to sell to the population. There would need to be elected positions across the union and that would mean an EU government not made up of ministers from each member state: A United States of Europe in effect.
I always thought a major plank of left wing thought was the idea of internationalism. Globalisation certainly makes it hard for a working class fightback against capitalism when companies operate over borders. Free movement though can act as a tool in helping us to organise agains that. Strengthening free movement and with people moving across border freely meant that worker organisation became ever easier. Working class people all face the same problems across borders. Free movement can be a left wing cause too. Internationalism has been forgotten on the left as people fall for the arguments of protectionism against mass immigration. Suddenly we see people on the left making arguments that use exactly the same language as those on the right. All of which adds to the mood music helping to buoy fascism.
We have seen the rise of the far right in the last few months as Brexit appeared to flounder. The popularity of the Tories seems to hinge on whether the far right think they are doing a good enough job on being complete bastards. UKIP does better when the Tories pursue a soft Brexit. The Tories shoot up three points when Boris makes disparaging comments of Muslim women. This is the reality of Brexit. Not that it’s a solid argument for remaining in the EU. I don’t think there is one of those either. That is the horrendous nightmare our ruling class has got us wound up in.
Brexit definitely offers some opportunities for us as the ruling class argues amongst itself for a few years but ultimately it will be same old, same old but with potentially more brutal people in power and extra powers for the bosses to suppress dissent. If anyone thought the working class would do well out of Brexit they need to get real. Brexit is going to mean brutal bosses and bastard politicians wrecking our lives for decades to come.
What is needed now is a realisation that our future has the potential to include a racist Prime Minister in Boris, supported by a socially conservative Rees-Mogg with power behind the scenes. It’s time to take a position on Brexit and recognise the threat and the enemy. It’s time to unite and take the fight to the people that wish to rule over us.