Monday, August 22, 2016

Brexit Must Be Steered Left
Tuesday 23RD posted by Morning Star in Editorial

ON A Mediterranean island, the leaders of Germany, France and Italy are thrashing out their preferred terms for Britain to leave the EU.

And it should come as no surprise either that teams of City financiers and Whitehall civil servants are working on how they want to play the exit negotiations.

The British ruling class is one of the most experienced and strategically minded on the planet. Its thinkers and planners will be considering all the options and contingencies.

At the core of that ruling class are the financial monopoly capitalists, whose investments span not only the financial sector here but across much of the globe.

British elites also exercise decisive control over almost every branch of industry through their key shareholdings, interlocking directorships and stranglehold over banking and credit.

They have spearheaded the drive for deregulation, privatisation and capitalist globalisation.

Most of the City’s fat cats and their institutions wanted the people of Britain to vote Remain in the May 23 referendum on EU membership.

They recognised the leading role played by the EU in breaking down barriers to big business profiteering, not only within Europe but also through global bodies such as the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund, as well as through trade and investment pacts with other major players in the capitalist world market.

They also understood that much of the EU bluster about financial regulation, subsidiarity and a “social Europe” is largely window-dressing.

They had applauded the EU as it rescued their devalued bonds by pounding the people of Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus into penury.

But now these same monopolists have to deal with the democratic vote to take Britain out of the EU.

The British Bankers Association, TheCityUK and other bodies want a bilateral agreeement with the EU which maintains a Europe-wide “free market” in financial services.

They fear a loss of lucrative business in London bailing out financial contracts denominated in euros.

The same kind of “free market” would also aim to preserve the freedom to export capital from Britain to Europe and the rest of world, together with the right to establish financial businesses anywhere in the EU.

The central involvement of  Baroness Vadera, Lord Mandelson and other New Labourites in this strategy should ring alarm bells in the labour movement.

The free movement of capital and commodities — including super-exploited migrant labour — is neither a socialist nor even a progressive aspiration when financial monopolies are calling the shots.

The labour movement must clarify and unite around its own agenda for the EU negotiations to steer Brexit towards the left.

The preliminary agenda for next month’s Trades Union Congress displays encouraging signs that this is beginning to happen.

But rebuilding labour movement unity around such an approach needs to be based on two principled positions.

First, Britain should not remain in any European “free market” which prevents a British government from intervening to regulate, plan or nationalise any part of the economy.

Whether such action is to direct capital into productive industry, save the steel industry or outlaw inferior employment terms and conditions for migrant — or “posted” — workers, elected governments and parliaments must, like trade unions, be free to take action.

Second, the people’s vote to leave the EU must be respected and implemented, not blocked or rerun.

Anything less would be a violation of democracy and risk handing millions of votes to the right-wing nationalists of Ukip.

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