Brexit

“The idea that all Britain’s Labour party needs to do to win is offer true socialism has been tested to destruction.” (Financial Times) 

News of the British election result was greeted by jubilation on the stock markets of the world. The pound sterling soared, and Donald J. Trump tweeted: “Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his great WIN!”

But all history shows that a rise in the stock market does not necessarily signify anything positive for the working class. Rather, the opposite is the truth. And what pleases the present occupant of the White House will not necessarily be to the liking of the working people of Britain.

His government is just two days old, but Boris Johnson has already managed to lose his majority and rack up two defeats in the House of Commons. No government in history has faced such an immediate losing streak. This demonstrates how weak the Tory leader and his regime are.

As expected, the European elections saw a huge victory for the Brexit Party, which took 32 percent of the vote in Britain. This clearly reflects the frustrations of many people about the paralysis in Parliament and the failure of politicians to agree on a path for Britain’s departure from the EU.

Alan Woods discusses the battle in the Labour Party over the question of a second referendum on Britain's EU membership. The Tories are torn apart over Brexit, yet rather than uniting behind their party leader, right-wing Labour MPs are putting their energies into attacking Jeremy Corbyn. Sooner or later, judgement day will come for Theresa May, and the opportunity for Corbyn’s Labour to form a government will present itself. But how will Corbyn deal with the wreckers in his ranks, and the question of the EU?

The Prime Minister has bought herself some time with another Brexit deadline extension. But workers and youth cannot afford to suffer any more of this chaos. We need a general election and a socialist Labour government now! According to Tory Brexiteers, Britain was supposed to be riding the waves of sovereignty and independence, having freed itself from the leviathan of the European Union. Instead, Theresa May and her ragtag government find themselves lost at sea - and with no hope on the horizon.

The Mother of Parliaments is now home to the mother of all crises. Brexit has tested the UK’s institutions and unwritten constitution to their limits. We are in uncharted waters – and in Theresa May’s case, in a rapidly sinking boat without a life vest.

With her precious Brexit deal thoroughly defeated in parliament for a second-time, Theresa May seems to have finally run out of road. Commentators on all sides are imploring the war-weary prime minister to stop flogging a dead horse and move on. But where can she go from here? The Tory government is in office but not in power. One disaster follows another in a never-ending circle. May looks (and sounds) like a dead-woman walking.

Each new vote in the British House of Commons only reaffirms parliament’s paralysis. Yesterday MPs voted against the prospect of a no-deal Brexit – but then voted against any alternative that would avoid this default option. A deeply divided Tory party briefly united – but only to demand the impossible of their leader. And Jeremy Corbyn, having failed to bring down the government through parliamentary means, saw his Brexit proposal (to include a customs union) rejected also. So where to go from here?

The turbulent events in Westminster over the past week have done nothing to break the parliamentary paralysis over Brexit. May’s deal has been crushed, leaving the Prime Minister humiliated. But Tory rebels and DUP MPs have closed ranks to support this crumbling Conservative government.

Rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit deal was never in doubt. The question was always by how much. But the scale of last night’s defeat for the Prime Minister – losing by an unprecedented 230 votes – defied even the most pessimistic of expectations. With her proposal firmly spurned by parliament, Theresa May is now set to sail the country into uncharted waters.

Theresa May’s decision last year to postpone the vote on her Brexit deal has done little other than provide a brief respite from her insoluble dilemma. Her negotiated package remains hated by all sides. Rather than bringing people round to her proposal, the Christmas period has hardened the resolve of Brexiteers and Remainers alike.

Theresa May has survived to live another day after coming through a vote of no confidence amongst her party’s MPs with a 200-to-117 majority. But whilst the Tory leader may have won this battle, she has most certainly lost the war.

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the historic political crisis taking place in Britain, as the Tory Prime Minister's fate hangs in the balance. As Alan notes, the UK was once considered one of the most stable countries in the world. But now it is a source of enormous instability for world capitalism. And the crisis is not confined to Britain. May, Macron, and Merkel are all facing huge difficulties at home, as the broken status quo collapses around them. Only the call for a socialist Europe can offer a way forward.

Karl Marx once remarked to Friedrich Engels, his lifelong friend and collaborator, that there were sometimes uneventful decades in which years passed as though they were just days. But, he added, “these may be again succeeded by days into which years are compressed”. The current period in Britain is like the latter. Events are moving at a blistering pace.

Just over 25 years after its foundation, the European Union looks like it could be falling apart under the weight of its own contradictions. Everywhere you look, the major parties are coming under increased pressure due to the heightening of the class struggle as a result of 10 years of crisis. This has meant that, in one country after another, the ruling class can no longer rule in the old way.

Finally, after months of fraught negotiations, the UK-EU negotiators have come up with a proposed deal. Written on the side, however, are instructions: light the blue touchpaper and stand well clear. All hell is about to break loose. From the point of view of big business, the draft deal is not too bad, tying the British economy to Europe. But for Tory Brexiteers, in particular, the deal is toxic.