According to the media, the fact that MPs finally (but narrowly) passed the "so-called" Brady amendment yesterday, was a "major breakthrough".
But was it? Does it resolve the deadlock in which the Brexit saga has been stuck since May first published her "divorce deal", back in December? No, it does not. The fact is, that there is still no majority for any particular kind of Brexit in the Commons, let alone in the country as a whole!
Far from being a "breakthrough", the Brady amendment just highlights the fact that the so-called "Irish backstop" was the one feature in May's deal which was most unpopular among the Westminster hard-Brexiteers - which was already an open secret, anyway!
Beyond that, this amendment just calls for “alternative arrangements” to replace this "backstop" - but without actually bothering to explain what these arrangements are supposed to look like! How convenient!
This is just kindergarten politics! It's as if a bunch of 5-year olds were furiously stamping their feet because they don't like the chocolate ice-cream they've been given - while stubbornly refusing to say which other flavour would keep them quiet!
Covering up the Brexit debacle
There is method in this parliamentary madness, though.
Choosing the "Irish backstop" as a cover to cause more havoc in the Brexit saga, is no accident: this is an issue which has been shrouded in such grandiose, opaque, rhetoric that it's hard for most people to understand what it's about.
The joke is that the whole shenanigans around the "Irish backstop" hinges on the fact that the future trade negotiations between Britain and the EU may take longer than the maximum 27 months of the transitional period, during which nothing will change for trade. Only then would the "Irish backstop" be triggered so as to keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic free of any controls, despite the absence of a trade deal.
Strangely enough, the Westminster Brexiteers claim that this "Irish backstop" could threaten the independence and/or unity of Britain - no less! But haven't these same Brexiteers always claimed that it would be a "doddle" for Britain to reach a free trade deal with the EU? A "doddle" lasting over 27 months? Not exactly what you can call a "doddle" - or was it just another of their lies?
The other advantage of the "Irish backstop" scare-mongering is that it allows the Tory Brexiteers to point at someone they can blame for their own mess. According to them, the "Irish backstop" is a sinister plot organised by the EU, in order to catch Britain in a satanic trap!
And never mind the fact that, if today there is an issue over an Irish border, it is because of centuries of British occupation - not because of the EU! Significantly, among the "alternative arrangements" referred to by the Brady amendment, no Brexiteer has ever mentioned the "reunification" of Ireland as a "alternative" - and yet wouldn't it be the simplest and most commonsense solution?
Just as the "Irish backstop" issue is, in and of itself, a device designed for blaming the EU for the Brexiteers' mess, so is the Brady amendment.
In substance, it is supposed to allow MPs to give May the authority to reopen the "withdrawal" deal for re-negotiation with the EU. Except that, just like May, the Tory Brexiteers know very well that this option has not been on the table since the final version of the deal was reached in December, after 2 years of horse-trading - between May and the EU, but mostly between May and her Tory factions. And why should the much larger EU economy make new allowances in order to indulge the fantasies of little Britain's Tory politicians?
In other words, both May and her party's warring factions, are embarking on a blame-game against the EU, whose leaders will be accused of being the only obstacles to a "good" Brexit deal. From this, to scape-goating the millions of EU workers who are creating value with their labour and paying taxes in Britain today, there is a very small step - as we've seen again and again, during the past years under Cameron and May.
And yet, it's not the EU which was responsible for cutting 70,000 jobs in British retail, in 2018. And it is May’s government, not the EU, which is making a new cut in pension credit of up to £7,000/yr for the poorest. As to the workers who are being targeted by the big car manufacturers, who are seeking to take advantage of Brexit to boost profits, their passports may be British, EU or non-EU, but they all form one single class - the working class, our class, the only force which can counter the attacks of the bosses and the mess of their politicians.