May’s last speeches on Brexit were full of words like "free trade" and "getting the best deal for Britain" - but they were just an exercise in politicking.
Indeed, isn’t it ironic that this government should be championing "free trade" while at the same time wanting out of the EU - the closest thing to a free-trade zone that exists in today’s world?
The fact that Donald Trump, who’s been championing the most aggressive protectionism for the US, came out in support of Brexit is no coincidence, of course. Whatever May says, Brexit represents the exact opposite to "free trade". It is just the most narrow form of protectionism under another name!
But, never mind. The point is that May claims that she can have her cake and eat it - both "free trade" and a narrow protectionism against the EU. As if by going it alone against the rest of the world, little Britain could be better off!
A very British fat cats’ society
Of course, being better off could be the case for a handful of British fat cats - and in fact, some are already making a killing out of Brexit, judging from the astronomical level reached by share prices in London. In fact, this is exactly what May’s "best deal for Britain" is really about: the "best deal" for these fat cats - nothing less and nothing more!
As for the rest of us, workers, May wants us to swallow her benevolent words about Britain becoming a more equal society after Brexit. But how does she expect us to buy that?
As if Britain wasn’t one of the most unequal among the world’s rich countries! The most recent income figures show that top British bosses earned over £1,000/hr on average after receiving a 10% salary rise over the previous year alone. And this, when the income of the 20% poorest working households is still lower than in 2007 and is being cut even further by the Tories’ welfare cuts!
But was this scandalous inequality ever caused by Britain’s membership of the EU? Of course not! Otherwise, why would these top British bosses be far better paid than their European counterparts compared to their workforces? And why would welfare expenditure per inhabitant be lower in Britain than in the other rich European countries?
Likewise for the NHS crisis. Will Brexit do anything to resolve it? Of course not! In fact, May and her millionaire Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, have been in complete denial over this crisis, refusing point blank to admit that the NHS needed more funds. Instead they’re now blaming GPs for hospital queues and bed shortages - when everyone knows that there aren’t enough GPs in the first place and that hospitals don’t have the resources they need, anyway! Meanwhile, private companies keep being allowed to make fat profits out of the NHS budget, thereby crippling the whole system!
Foreign or not, we’re all workers!
Then, of course, the other plank of May’s speeches was the worn-out theme of immigration.
The whole point of May’s exercise was, again, to pull the carpet from under Ukip’s feet and allay the fears of those of her own MPs who feel Ukip threatens them. Hence her insistence on immigration being her "red line" in the future Brexit negotiation.
Never mind that her plan to stop the free movement of EU workers into Britain will starve the NHS of vital health workers and cut the number of GPs even more!
The working class, however, has nothing to fear from foreign workers. The fact that wages are low and housing scarce must be blamed on scrooge British bosses and on the governments’ failure to build social housing - not on foreign workers.
This scapegoating of foreign workers only serves the interests of British capitalists, to divert attention from their exploitation of our labour and their parasitism on the state. This is precisely why a billionaire like Trump has given such a high profile to the same kind of anti-migrant demagogy in his election campaign.
Of course, May felt it necessary to distance herself from Trump’s insults against women! But there is nothing to choose between Trump and his hateful racism towards Mexicans, blacks and Muslims, on the one hand, and May’s scapegoating of foreign workers, on the other. The packaging may be different, but not the content. It’s all about driving a wedge into our ranks, in order to weaken our ability to defend our collective interests.
In the coming period, we can only expect more attacks from May and her capitalist masters. And we’ll need all our forces to stand up against these attacks. Regardless of nationality, all workers are part of one single class. Only by uniting across these artificial divisions will the working class be able to use its full fighting power.