Let’s be clear: when it comes to Brexit, the Morning Star and its masters, the Communist Party of Britain, essentially support Boris Johnson and wish him well. They even (as we shall see) harbour hopes that he may introduce some sort of planned economy (no, seriously! See below).
This has been obvious for a long while: over a year ago (29 Aug 2019), the paper blamed anti-Brexit MPs for Johnson’s illegal prorogation of parliament: “It comes in circumstances that have been created by anti-Brexit MPs and the House of Commons. They have had three years to agree a way to honour the people’s vote to leave the EU [...] Now Johnson has decided to take them on with a trick or two of his own.
“Had more MPs been honest about their full intention, their own protestations about prorogation being a ‘constitutional outrage’ might at least have the ring of sincerity. As it is, they are the squawkings of a bunch of unscrupulous plotters who are now being played at their own disreputable game”.
That tone of admiration was repeated when the paper described the coup as “a muscular move” that “adds to the conviction held by mounting millions of electors that the gap between Parliament and the people is becoming the defining feature of our politics”.
The Morning Star went on to back Johnson’s withdrawal bill, stating (21 Oct 2019): “This government... has, against the expectations and manifest hopes of all those parliamentary renegades who have repeatedly found ways to subvert the popular will, reached agreement with the European Commission. This is the actually existing Brexit. There is no going back... This is a withdrawal agreement that offers an escape from the obligations that the EU treaty regime imposes.”
So what does the paper think about Johnson’s latest “muscular move” – to announce his willingness to break the very treaty that the Morning Star was so enthusiastic about when it was announced less than a year ago?
Well, once again the Morning Star and CPB have expressed sympathy for “Mr Johnson” (as they respectfully refer to him these days) in the face of “EU intransigence”: in fact, the main danger, they warn is that he’ll back down: “With the support of the Labour Party leadership, the EU is determined to control state-aid industry policy in Britain and Northern Ireland while maintaining a large share of the fishing catch in UK waters. The danger is that Mr Johnson will sell out on both issues in order to appease Ulster Unionists and City of London bond dealers” (8 Sep 2020).
The role of the Ulster Unionists and London bond dealers in Johnson’s possible “sell out” to the EU is not explained.
As for state aid: the Morning Star doesn’t mention the fact that UK could more than double state aid spending and still not come close to the EU average. But they don’t let that dampen their enthusiasm: Johnson’s defiance of the EU opens up the prospect of “Massive state aid to support industrial development .. What’s not to like?” (editorial, 9 Sep 2020)
By now totally carried away, the editorial even makes a comparison with ... the USSR’s planned economy! “It evokes the rousing verse in Red Fly the Banners Oh, sung at many a union conference: ‘Five for the years of the [Stalin’s] Five Year Plan, and four for the four years taken’.”
How much longer before “Mr Johnson” becomes “Comrade Johnson”?
• Correction: last week I included Iran amongst the regimes that the Morning Star considers to be “goodies”; this was incorrect as the paper regularly carries articles in solidarity with Iranian trade unionists and pointing out the regime’s human rights abuses. On the other hand, I did not include North Korea in the list, even though the CPB and many Morning Star contributors do, in fact, consider it to be a “socialist” state.