Brexit:- The Games Begin. 9/2/2018
To-days opening of the Winter Olympics coincides with the delivery of an ultimatum from the EU to the UK. Just a reminder that leaving the single market and customs union will lead to tariffs at the Irish border. Meanwhile, the UK government who have fudged the issue by saying that they don’t want a border, that if there is to be one it would be an Irish choice. They also agreed if in a vague manner to having no hard border.
As the Irish Times reports ““It’s important to tell the truth,” Barnier said, suggesting that British officials have not been forthright about the implications of their public pronouncements. “A U.K. decision to leave the single market and leave the customs union would make border checks unavoidable.”” With Arlene of the DUP being an obstacle to any real compromise this issue is liable to be dragged out a long as possible. The delay of any realistic possible solution is already weakening the position of the Tory Government with continuing leaks of significant documents including one that shows that all scenarios are bad for the UK economy.
This would signal a possible u-turn if it were not for polls that show that many of those who supported Brexit would rather be worse off than “overrun” by immigrants. The ideology of Brexit has little regard for economic realities. Those from the left promote democratic arguments, so-called Lexit and point to the bureaucracy, dictatorship, and neoliberal policies of EU countries but this is much at present an aside considering that Portugal is the only country that has moved to the left as far as government power is concerned. Though passions still run high in Greece – leaving the common market has little appeal to those struggling against austerity. Neoliberalism is bound to be the dominant force in Europe with or without the EU. Protectionism offers little economic advantage. Leaving the world’s largest trading partnership and the having to compete with that very same partner for Asian, and American markets is very much a no-brainer for practical-minded people.
Corbyn has been a disappointment for the pro-EU left, the mantra of a “Brexit in the interests of working people” based on the above analysis is a position of staying in the single market. While it is true that the market in itself is not in the interests of working people, Brexit merely cuts us off from a larger market it does nothing to change the interests of workers in the marketplace. One poll says that 70% of the Labour party membership is for the single market. The TUC too has an anti-Brexit outlook and are worried about where the Tories are headed. A tax haven with no workers rights.
Corbyn is shilly-shallying. This may have some basis in reality and ties into the mood against the Conservatives and their mismanagement of Brexit, the prostitution of themselves to the DUP, and the continuation of austerity in all government departments including the police force. It does look as though he is giving them enough rope while hoping that the severity of the situation will help win ex-labour UKIP voters back. However, there will be far less room for Corbyn to manoeuvre if the Hard Brexiteers get their way.
The SNP who have been consistent insofar as they have argued against Brexit from the days of the slogan “Scotland in Europe” are also among those putting pressure on Corbyn to declare support for the single market and customs union. While both Sturgeon and Corbyn have been waiting for clear mandates to push their agendas, the weight against the Tories is mounting. The demise of the NHS in England, the possible inclusion of the NHS in a secret trade deal with the US which could allow US companies to gain compensation from the Scottish government if privatisation is not allowed, should alert us all to the need to build an anti-austerity movement capable of bringing down the Tories and their Brexit shenanigans. A lead from Scotland in this direction can push the Labour party more rapidly towards a clearer position on Brexit that reflects the views of its members and trade union backers.