Saturday, November 05, 2016

Fight For A People’s Brexit
by Morning Star in Editorial

WHATEVER the motives of Gina Miller in challenging the government over implementing the EU referendum decision, yesterday’s High Court ruling was a resounding defeat for Theresa May. She had laid bare her intention that Tory ministers alone would draw up the negotiating basis for triggering Article 50.

Three High Court judges have scuppered this plan, which, as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn notes, means that the Prime Minister must now present to Parliament the terms she intends to put before European Union negotiators.

It is an affront to democracy that, while MPs were kept in the dark, Business Secretary Greg Clark spilled the Brexit strategy beans to Japanese car giant Nissan management. Many worries were raised during the referendum campaign — not just by those opposed to Britain leaving — over the future of various services and basic rights. Secret negotiations led by a party traditionally hostile to the NHS, workplace rights, environmental measures and the public sector are guaranteed to increase fears.

Government determination to appeal against the High Court ruling and to win Supreme Court authorisation to act as it wishes under cover of royal prerogative should put the labour movement on guard.

Whether people voted to remain or to leave, a clear decision was taken and it must be respected.
Instead of seeking pretexts for a second ballot or parliamentary veto, MPs must respect democracy and accept that the Leave decision be implemented.

There should be no truck with anti-democrats such as Tony Blair who assert that voters misunderstood the question or were misled, those who claim the ability to divine that public opinion has changed and others who suggest that the result should be annulled because they fear for a future outside the EU. Irrespective of the terms to be proposed or negotiated, the electorate confounded the Establishment by plumping to leave in a binary choice.

Corbyn accepts that basic democratic principle, insisting that Labour will press “for a Brexit that works for Britain, putting jobs, living standards and the economy first.” As general principles these are not a bad starting point, but they need political meat on the bones and quickly. If Labour and the wider labour movement, including trade unions, are to take seriously the need to transform a generalised Brexit decision into a specific “Lexit” — exit to the left — position, this cannot be restricted to Parliament.

The labour movement as a whole has to campaign on the basis of putting working people’s rights to the fore while accepting the people’s fundamental verdict.

The upsurge in racism and xenophobia since the referendum was initiated must be countered by demanding residence rights for EU citizens currently living in Britain. Unfair anti-immigration rules imposed as part of the racist EU Fortress Europe policy on non-Europeans, especially from Africa and Asia, must be reversed. The Human Rights Act must be defended along with continued respect for the European Court on Human Rights linked to the 47-member Council of Europe. European Court of Justice rulings on posted workers that have assisted unscrupulous employers to undercut wage levels in Britain must be renounced.

Labour must also insist that EU-sourced progressive social and environmental policies be enshrined in British law and that finance be guaranteed to vital programmes currently receiving EU funding.

Leaving the EU does not have to follow the Tories’ neoliberal guidelines. It can and must be based on solid labour movement anti-austerity principles, but they will have to be fought for.

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