Brexit update 1 - The Brexit coup
10 September 2019
Calls to defend Britain's corrupt parliamentary system are necessary but not sufficient.
The new English civil war has clearly entered an end game following the government proroguing of Parliament in order to reduce debate about the looming hard Brexit, the split in the Tory party and parliamentary attempts to frustrate the rump government.
There's no doubt that the Brexiteers have been attempting a soft coup and it also shows up the generally oppressive nature of British institutions that allows royalty to control Parliament. We should bear in mind also that the elevation of Boris Johnson as prime minister was achieved by the tiny section of the electorate who are members of the Tory party and that his first action was to stage an initial coup in the government to install a minority far-right cabinet, a number of whom were expelled from earlier cabinets or considered unsuitable for membership of government.
The original referendum was itself undemocratic. The question put was so wide as to be meaningless. The Brexiteers lied constantly throughout the campaign. Young people and the millions of residents from other European countries were excluded from the ballot and Scotland and the North of Ireland are to be dragged along despite voting against Brexit. The latest coup attempt involved shameless lying, a characteristic of Boris and the Brexiteers from the beginning. The cry is that ruling out a hard Brexit will weaken the government's hand in negotiations, but reports from Europe and from inside the cabinet indicate that there are no negotiations and that Johnson is simply running out the clock to force a hard Brexit organised by a rump government.
In response to complaints about a lack of democracy government representatives sneered and said that the opposition had had plenty of time to put forward a resolution to stop Brexit. They are right. The parliamentarians needed a section of the Tory Party to vote with them. Many opposed a hard Brexit but they also feared the destruction of their party and the end of Tory rule in Britain. The Tory split has now happened.
The Remainers could have voted Johnson out of office. They could have accepted an interim government led by Corbyn. Now they have a law but no parliament. The Brexiteers still have a government. It may be that the extremism of Johnson and his crew produce an alliance strong enough to defeat them, but we must recognise that this persistent lack of democracy is a mechanism for Brexit, not the goal itself.
So what is the goal of Brexit?
It has become increasingly obvious that Brexit isn't about Brexit. It is a right wing push to hold power and demolish opposition, a task made easier by the reactionary nature of much of the opposition.
Boris Johnson has called for an increased frequency of talks and claims that if the government makes it clear that Britain is prepared to crash out of Europe the Europeans will make a new offer. He puts forward shameless lies about progress in talks that leave negotiators baffled.
This is insane stuff. If the British right wing wanted a different proposal the first thing that they would do would be to put one forward. They have not done so over the whole period of the negotiations, even when they dismissed May’s deal. Around the Irish backstop, put in place because Britain has no proposals to resolve the border question, Johnson speaks in tongues about a mysterious technology that doesn't exist. In fact, in the period since the Brexit referendum Boris and his pals have largely ignored Europe, concentrating on their enemies at home.
The government policy is hard Brexit, linked to a snap election which Johnson hopes will win back the far right around Farage, give the Tory Party a commanding electoral lead and silence dissent.
Why are they pursuing this course? Their own project yellowhammer indicates an endless chain of damage to the economy. Even without this report it is self-evident that the chain of production is now both European and global and that disruption will force up the cost of production.
As with the USA, the puppet now appears as the master. Throughout their history the Tories have relied on racism,support for imperialism and reactionary hatred of workers to keep them in power. In government they ignored much of their base and ran society in the interests of big business. Capitalist society has become more and more oppressive and the base are now demanding payoff. Racists ally with small business, seeking greater freedom to oppress workers. Super rich imperialists such as Rees Mogg align with hedge fund managers dreaming of a society without even the current minimal constraints on their activities.
Brexit is the mechanism for their offensive. A mass attack on those of different colour or ethnicity would create a climate of fear. Economic collapse is welcomed as justification for lowering wages and services. The fund managers dream of an influx of US capital and a wild west financial deregulation. Others dream of a new alliance with Trump as junior partners in military domination of the globe.
This is not the programme of the leading capitalist organisations, but after years of austerity politics immediate economic interest is trumped by political necessity. Capital must have secure control of the government and placating reaction is the way to do that. This is why the political majority against Brexit is so weak and divided.
A soft or delayed Brexit would blunt the political offensive but not end it. Calls for democracy criticise the means that the government is using, not the political outcome of the Brexit process.
So a campaign calling for democracy that does not take up the broader political issues is unlikely to be successful on the streets, as borne out by the demonstrations following Johnson's decision to prorogue parliament, although it has finally pushed Remain MPs into more active resistance.
To involve workers on the streets requires engagement with the actual outcome. At the moment what they see is a battle between an unpopular local elite and an equally unpopular European establishment. In any case the other shoe has to drop. We have a new far right Brexit party, a Tory party committed to Brexit and determined to force out the disloyal Remainers, the possibility of a merger between the two parties in the future, a minority remain Tory party and, waiting in the wings, a new right wing “centrist” party involving the Labour right wing. As a consequence there would be a minority left social democratic party - a minority because of Corbyn's constant capitulation to his right.
At some stage socialists will have to present an alternative - socialism at home, a united socialist states of Europe abroad. That will be the view of a minority, but it will make possible the beginnings of a working class opposition, something absent at the moment.