Against the bosses' Brexit offensive

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11 July 2018

Are the rats starting to leave May's sinking ship?  One can only wonder, after the resignation of her government's three most vocal hard-Brexit fundamentalists.
    But why would they leave now?  Because they don’t like the so-called "collective Brexit position" reached at Chequers on July 6th?  That’s hard to believe, since there's nothing really new in this "position".  It’s just a rehashed version of May's old "have my cake and eat it" line!
    So, more likely, their hard-Brexit stance was just pure electoral posturing, which was never meant to materialise in the real world.  And now that things are getting really serious, they feel it is time to abandon ship, before they are made to share May’s inevitable discredit, once the real consequences of Brexit become clear.

Big business weighs in

Indeed, after two years of wavering and posturing, the days when cabinet ministers could get away with sniping at each other, are gone for good.
    The way in which the manufacturing and financial giants have been weighing in over the past month, reading May the riot act and telling her in no uncertain terms which direction she should take, leaves no doubt in this respect.
    Ever since the referendum, the City heavyweights have allowed their politicians to posture to their heart's content.  But now they’re saying enough is enough.  With just over a year to go before the Brexit deadline, they want their government trustees to get serious and take care of their interests.
    So, after a long series of stark remonstrations by the big financial firms, it's now the turn of the car industry.  One after the other, every one of the big names in car manufacturing has issued warnings, explicitly or implicitly threatening thousands of job cuts, should May fail to deliver the kind of trade deal they need with the EU.
    After all, 40% of the 1.8m vehicles produced in Britain are exported to the EU and 2/3 of the parts which are used in their production are imported from the EU.  The last thing the car giants want is to have new customs barriers interfering with their production process and sales.
    And it's not just the car manufacturers.  Big engineering and electronics groups like Airbus, Siemens, BAE, Rolls-Royce and Philips, have now all joined in, with similar warnings.  Others, like Tata Steel, have formed alliances with continental rivals, threatening yet more job cuts.
    But then, of course, the fact that, beyond the politicians' politicking, big business would have the last word in dictating May's policy, was never a matter of “if”, only a matter of “when”.

Facing our class enemies

For the working class, the Brexit dilemma was always a con, a non-choice between two sides of the same capitalist coin.
    The Remain camp was portraying the EU as the guarantor of our economic "well-being" when, in fact, it is just a device used by the richest European capitalist classes to bolster their economic weight against their US rivals.  Meanwhile, the Leave camp was peddling delusions of future economic affluence, harking back to the "good old days" when British capital "ruled the waves".  And, both sides were - and are still - whipping up the same nationalist, xenophobic prejudices, claiming that we, the "British" working class, have the same interests as our British exploiters and that, somehow, we need to be protected against our own sisters and brothers from the EU, who have been working with us and been exploited by the same bosses for so long.
    Except that no, we don't have the same interests as our exploiters - but we do have the same interests as our working class brothers and sisters, regardless of where they originate from.
    Today, as the Brexit process is beginning to unravel, it is proving to be the con that it always was for the working class.  No matter how much big business was whining about the irresponsibility of its politicians, its interests were always bound to come first - and this is what is now happening.
    Over the past two years, while their politicians were bickering between themselves, big companies were preparing for “B-day”.  They made plans to ensure that neither their profits nor the £100bn/yr dividends they pay to shareholders would be affected by Brexit.  And now their politicians are gearing up to implement these plans, come what may.
    For us, workers, this means that we are facing the prospect of yet another offensive against our jobs, wages and conditions - just as we did after the banking crisis, ten years ago.  But why should we foot the bill again, this time, for their Brexit madness?  By using our collective strength and uniting our ranks across all nationalities, we would have the means to stop the coming bosses' offensive if we choose to.  Indeed, this is our only way forward!