European Union

Labour’s soft Brexit not good enough

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Editorial

It is very unusual for a Tory MP to say he is “ashamed to be British in many ways”. But those were the recent words of Charles Tannock, complaining about his party’s stance on Brexit. He even went on to say the Tories were “mired in arrogance and hubris… the petty nationalisms, the triumphalism.”

Labour has recently said it favours the UK staying in the single market and the customs union for a long transition and even indefinitely. The party is campaigning to vote down the Bill. While not many Tories will back a Labour amendment on the single market, one tabled by a Tory rebel could get support and it this may be backed by Labour and other parties.

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Defend freedom of movement

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Editorial

With the Tories in disarray on how to conduct Brexit negotiations with their increasingly frustrated European Union counterparts, the labour movement debate about how to approach Brexit is also hotting up. A welcome recent development is the launch of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement (LCFM) on 4 August with the prominent support of Labour MPs Clive Lewis and David Lammy.

The labour movement debate about how to approach Brexit is hotting up.

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Back workers’ rights to move freely

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Editorial

Jeremy Corbyn has restated a view expressed to ITV in May that Brexit means leaving the single market and an end to freedom of movement across the UK.

In his own words, he told BBC journalist Andrew Marr that, “There would be Europeans workers working in Britain and British workers working in Europe as there are at the moment. What there wouldn’t be is the wholesale importation of underpaid workers from central Europe in order to destroy conditions, particularly in the construction industry.”

It’s Labour’s job to win hearts and minds and convince people of a different politics: one that puts class, not nation, front and centre.

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Make May resign!

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Editorial

According to the media over the 8-9 July weekend, the argument among Tory MPs is whether to replace Theresa May now by David Davis, or to wait to replace her until the autumn. Even Tory party chair Grant Shapps has no confidence in May: “Theresa May will need to operate a completely different model to remain in power”. Getting May out will be a first step in bringing down the Tory government. Only a first step.

For the Tories in office to take a skewed snapshot vote and interpret it as a blank cheque for their policies is not democracy.

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Brexit: fight for free movement!

Author: 

Sacha Ismail

As the UK-EU negotiations on Brexit begin, the political landscape in Britain is in flux. The general election result was widely interpreted as a riposte to the Tories’ push for a hard Brexit. Now senior Tory critics of a hard Brexit, and indeed of Brexit per se, are becoming bolder.

The bulk of Labour members are very likely in favour of free movement yet this has not found expression in the hierarchy or public position of the party.

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Keep fighting for free movement!

Despite wide support on the Labour left for freedom of movement, there has been no active campaigning. The result is that those on the left that have compromised on this issue, the union bureaucracy and Labour’s right have made the running. That is why on immigration the manifesto, is, at best, a vague compromise.

Interviewed by ITV on 15 May, Jeremy Corbyn said that Brexit means the free movement of citizens between the UK and the EU is going to end, even if Labour wins the election. In January Corbyn had said much the same, only later to retract, saying that he was not proposing new restrictions on the rights of people to move to the UK. At that time he hinted that free movement would be part of a negotiation to keep the UK in the single market. No such clarification now.

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Tories seek mandate to increase cuts, inequality, poverty

Author: 

Martin Thomas

“Mrs May”, writes the Tory-leaning columnist of the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh, “could not survive an election campaign saying so little so often if people paid attention”. Since so many don’t, “the repetition of slogans in lieu of answers carries no cost”. Fraser Nelson, another Tory, comments in the Spectator: “She seems to think that, if you refuse to give the press anything, the public won’t care. Worse, she seems to be right – for now, at least”. May’s purpose, so Nelson writes, is not to “seek a mandate”, but to evade one.

The Daily Mail front page headline on 19 April summed up how Theresa May sees the election serving her Brexit drive: “Crush the saboteurs”. That is, strengthen her position against all who ask questions, raise criticisms, demand information.

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No “Progressive Alliances”!

Author: 

Simon Nelson

The snap election and Labour’s position in the polls has once again raised the idea of a Progressive Alliance and coordinated tactical voting.

Compass, the “centre left” think tank, Tony Blair, and investment manager Gina Miller have all proposed some kind of organisation aimed at stopping hard Brexit. Gina Miller, who brought the court case that forced a vote on Article 50, was able to crowdfund almost £300,0000 in 48 hours to support such an initiative.

Labour must have a clearer policy on fighting hard Brexit. At the same time activists must oppose moves to tie the Labour Party and by extension the labour movement to anti-working class forces; it is a political dead end.

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Build Labour into a workers’ party, rebuild the labour movement

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Editorial

The intense election activity, drawing in a lot of people who have not yet come to meetings, has the potential to alter the longer-term shape of the Labour Party and the labour movement. We can make it a much broader movement of activists, with local parties having deeper roots in communities and a higher level of political activity.

Labour should be clear ending free movement in Europe is a terrible step backwards, a blow to unity between workers of different countries and origins, and paves the way for trashing workers’ and other rights which entered British law from the EU.

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The Socialist Party gives ground to nationalism

Author: 

Ira Berkovic

At best, Hannah Sell’s article “Brexit and the left” (Socialism Today, the magazine of the Socialist Party, Issue 207, April 2017) is a series of platitudinous banalities. At worst, it is a wretched concession to nationalism.

The free movement that exists between EU member states should be extended, not restricted. Bosses’ use of migrant labour to undercut local labour should be met with common struggle and demands for levelling up, not calls to end free movement.

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