It is the most ironical,if not farcical, of political times. Boris Johnson as prime minister is, in itself, a comical irony. Here we have a man who led the Brexit campaign ostensibly to “win back the sovereignty” of Parliament from Brussels, who promptly, within weeks of getting into Downing Street, prorogues parliament and de facto removes its sovereignty! What’s more, this is someone who’s made an art of getting away with breaking discipline and causing mayhem for his own party, but who now threatens Tory rebels with expulsion if they try to oppose his “do or die” Brexit.
Whether or not he is conscious of all these ironies himself, he knows that he is in a very precarious position. He may have fulfilled his long-held ambition to be PM, but at the head of a party with a majority of just one. At the time of writing Johnson has been appealing to Tory rebels not to “support Corbyn” and to allow him to proceed with his “exciting agenda” rather than forcing him to call a general election. However standing at a lectern outside Number 10, he did not sound too convinced of all of this himself!
Johnson’s argument is that by trying to block a no-deal Brexit, MPs will make this outcome more likely. Maybe, maybe not. But all of these “alternatives”: Brexit deal, no-deal exit, election, 2nd referendum, etc., just turn the political process around in the same circle it has been spinning in, for the past two years. Will any of them resolve the underlying political problem? Of course not!
After all, the whole shenanigans emanated from an intractable internal problem specific to the Tory party which is not even new. Yes indeed: the problem of infighting and factions, which came about over disagreements on the EU; whether Britain should be in or out. These fights are historic in fact! But then the issue came to a head when “leavers” overtook the party on its right in 2014 - something they did again in the last EU election this year, in the shape of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. This threat is hardly likely to go away, and given the current impasse and possible election, it looms large!
For an independent political voice
Of course, one can get upset over politicians who are seen to run roughshod over “democracy”. Especially when it’s the likes of Johnson who pretends that he is a great champion of the “will of the people” and then seems to spit on it. But the real issue is that the working class has absolutely no say nor control over society through the mechanisms this system provides. Workers know they don’t control production, but neither do they control politicians. If they did there is no way capitalism (based on exploitation of workers) would still exist!
The Brexit referendum itself is a case in point. It wasn’t even de-signed to give “the people” a voice in the first place. From a working class point of view, where was the stake in voting to sort out the Tories’ electoral problems under the guise, not only of poisonous xenophobia, but also when it risked splitting and dividing the working class itself? There was none!
But there will always be a way for the working class to avoid falling into the traps laid for it by aspiring politicians such as Johnson: by making sure that it has its own independent, political voice to defend its own class interests. This was never the case during the Brexit saga - and this has to change!