A statement by Trade Unionists Against the EU on the General Election 2017.
Theresa May wishes to make the general election solely about Brexit but the nation has already voted to leave the EU. Remain has lost and the country has demanded we get on with it. Parliament did its duty and implemented the wishes of the people. Article 50 has been invoked. We are leaving the EU. There is not going to be a rematch.
On the central issues of Brexit, the two main parties are in agreement. Both supported invoking Article 50, both agree that leaving the EU means leaving the single market and both agree that leaving the EU means an end to the freedom of movement of labour. The question for workers is who will deliver the clean Brexit the country voted for and what sort of Britain we want now that we have taken back control. Should it be more of the same, or dare we aim for something bold and new?
Theresa May’s warning of ‘dire consequences’ if we fail to reach a deal with the EU belies her effort to portray herself as a strong and tough negotiator with her ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. In reality, she is preparing the way for a betrayal with a compromise deal that falls short of what we voted for. Falling back on the World Trade Organisation rules of trade is not such a bad thing. Importantly it would wean us of our dependence on imports and encourage domestic production.
Grandstanding and histrionics apart, and there has been plenty of those from both the EU and the Tory government, the outcome of any set of negotiations depends on what common ground the two sides share. In the case of the Tories and the EU, the common ground is vast. They share the same free market ideology, the same attachment to austerity, the same love of flogging off public assets to private corporations, the same commitments to deregulation of capital and the same aversion to trade union rights, not to mention the same willingness to use military intervention abroad as a legitimate foreign policy tool.
The very opposite is true for Labour. In fact Labour’s major policies, those of ending austerity, taking back the railways and other utilities into public ownership, supporting British industry and promoting regional development are in complete contrast to the EU’s hard-wired policies. Labour cannot but have the clean break with the EU which workers voted for if only to implement its own manifesto commitment.
Voting Labour on June 8 is the logical next step to the Brexit vote