Why should the working class pay for the irresponsibility of politicians?

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12 October 2016

By now, the Brexiteers' pledge to "hand back Britain's £350m per week EU contribution to the NHS" has long since melted into thin air. Instead, May is threatening to deprive the large numbers of foreign doctors and nurses who are vital for the NHS, of their right to live and work in Britain - which would reduce the already understaffed NHS to a shadow of its former self!

But it's not the Brexiteers' only pledge which has gone out of the window. Didn't they promise as well, that a weak pound would boost exports and production? Well it hasn't. Official figures published last week show that industrial production went down by 1.4% in August. Much worse, Britain's trade deficit in industrial goods increased by a third - meaning that the volume of exports has actually decreased! And this, despite the Brexiteers' denials, means a direct threat to jobs, even before their negotiations over Brexit have started!

Brexit worsens the system's crisis

Then, of course, there was what the media called the pound's "flash crash". On 7 October, on the Singapore currency markets, the largest in Asia, the pound suddenly fell by 10% against the dollar and the euro. The crash spread like wild-fire to all other financial markets across the world. And at the time of writing, despite ups and downs, the pound's value is still falling.

Of course, there is no shortage of attempts to explain away this crash. Some claim that it was triggered by faulty programs which were driving the computers used by investment funds in their speculative operations - but then, why precisely did they fail at this point, since these programs are used all the time?

Others blame the "tough" stance taken by some EU leaders in response to May's speech at the Tory party conference, when she sounded as if she was opting for a "hard Brexit". There may be some truth in this. And undoubtedly, the poor economic figures released for August were also a factor.

But wasn't it predictable, that in the midst of an on-going worldwide financial crisis with no end in sight, the prospect of Brexit would add to the prevailing economic instability? And wasn't it predictable that jittery speculators would bet on a falling pound in response to the British government's pretensions over "going it alone", thereby accelerating its fall?

In any case, the end result is that, since the June referendum, the pound will have lost 17% of its value against the dollar and - ironically - 16% of its value against the euro.

One may well ask, therefore, whether "Project Fear" that the Brexiters denounced so vocally during the referendum campaign, hasn't in fact proved to be accurate?

We'll have to make the bosses pay

On the bosses' side, the big City firms are already making plans to set up shop in - or even move headquarters to - the EU. And this is bound to cost tens, maybe hundreds of thousands, of jobs. But what do the big finance capitalists care? Brexit or not, they will make sure that their profits are safe.

Manufacturing bosses are dependent on the domestic market, but even more on their tariff-free access to the much larger EU market. And although the weak pound may help with exports (if they don't have to pay duties in Europe), foreign-made components (as much as 50% of the cost of a British-made car) are now more expensive. But they have ways around it: Nissan, for instance, has already demanded to be compensated via public funds, for any losses it might incur due to Brexit - without the government refusing so far! Moreover, the bosses can be trusted to use Brexit as a pretext to "increase competitiveness" on our backs!

So where does all of this leave us workers? We are faced with warring, irresponsible, career-seeking politicians whose lies and overbidding created this mess. Meanwhile the capitalists are going to use all possible means to make us foot the resulting bill. They'll try to cut jobs and conditions and increase prices. But they'll also use other means. Already, next April's planned rise in the National Living Wage has been cut by 25%, under the pretext of a lower-than-expected growth. What's more, official figures show that Brexit will result in a £25bn shortfall in tax income - meaning more public sector cuts!

In other words, we are faced with the urgent need to prepare ourselves to fight the coming attacks - whether from the bosses or their politicians. Contrary to what they claimed, Brexit was never about "regaining control" from the EU. But we could and should regain control over our lives, by joining ranks across sections and nationalities in order to use our collective strength to keep the bosses under control!