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Going gently into that good night

Uninformed British Brexiters quietly celebrate a trip into the unknown

5 February 2020

It was hard to disguise the nature of Brexit as the British right wingers, posturing for the home crowd, waving their flags and Union Jack ties in the European parliament, before being contemptuously dismissed by the other members and trailing out of the chamber.

As with earlier phases of the story, the Brexit project remains undefined.  May's slogan was that "Brexit means Brexit" and Johnson's "Get Brexit dDone”. On the surface nothing much has happened, but this is because substantial dialogue is avoided.  As with Trumpists in America and Loyalism in Ireland, Brexiters rarely express themselves directly.

They don't have to.  The racist impulse at the heart of Brexit is everywhere apparent.  British society has moved sharply to the right, the Tories have a massive parliamentary majority, Labour has been defeated and a massive offensive is on the way. There is an uptick in racial abuse and the new government admits that their fingers were crossed when they promised an end to austerity.

In Ireland, the chief economic victim, all is confusion. The centrist Left groups supported Brexit and briefly waved the flag of Irexit - Irish withdrawal from Europe - before falling silent. Fine Gael claim the credit for saving Ireland through clever diplomacy. In reality Taoiseach Leo Varadkar surrendered the European "backstop" guarantee in exchange for assurances from Boris Johnson.

Boris, predictably, can't remember what these guarantees were.  The current agreement with Europe has what is claimed to be an invisible border in Ireland and a border down the Irish Sea, but British strategy is to push for a rapid exit and threaten a hard Brexit. In those circumstances the border will be back - custom posts, watchtowers and all.

Sinn Fein, as usual, speaks in tongues.  Spokesperson Declan Kearney claims the return of Stormont directed by Britain is a giant step forward towards a united Ireland while at the same time the front organisation on the border proclaims the threat of renewed partition. Their action proposal is for a border poll, although calling one is entirely at the discretion of the British.

In the immediate future there looms a very visible partition, an inevitable consequence of Brexit. The Stormont administration have been told by the British that they must implement eye-watering austerity and as all the major parties have taken seats in the administration and the trade union leadership and civic society have welcomed Stormont with cries of joy, there is no effective opposition.

In the 26 county State workers have suffered immensely at the hands of the European Central Bank and continue to suffer from restrictions on State spending and the cost of the massive sovereign debt  issues ignored by both Left and Right in the current election. Given the centrist Left's lack of an international perspective the possibility, indeed necessity, of common action with other European workers against the EU's austerity is not addressed.

On the other hand the fall in support for Fine Gael is a clear indication that the, undoubtedly self-interested, Gombeen Irish ruling class' policing role for the IMF and Brussels is becoming increasingly unstable and is failing to provide an ongoing solution for imperialism. In the North it is hard to disguise the fact that the return of Stormont is a political and economic disaster linked to lickspittle capitulation to Britain.

Here, and even more so in Britain, the essential meaning of Brexit for the working class has been either misunderstood or misconstrued. Discussion in general has been about structure and process. The next period will be about class war and the negative consequences of Brexit facing workers will be clear. It that war between the classes the role of revolutionaries is not to create illusions in electoral reformism as a solution for the working class but to produce a class analysis and to use elected positions to fight for a revolutionary programme that seeks to mobilise the working class on the streets and in the workplaces.

In that fight we call on all workers in struggle across Europe and Britain to reject the nationalistic poison that is creeping to prominence and in every confrontation with capital to counter it with internationalism, the essence of working class radicalism, which is ultimately expressed in the call for a United Socialist States of Europe.

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